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Immigration law is the general term used to describe the rules and regulations crafted by the government that deal with people either entering or leaving the country. Immigration itself is the act of entering a country, and with it legal issues such as residency (symbolized by the famous “Green Card”), naturalization (the primary pathway to citizenship), and deportation (essentially being expelled from the country) arise.
As recently demonstrated by President Trump’s executive orders #13769 and #13780, immigration rights can literally change overnight. Although it usually takes a passport and visa to lawfully enter a country, illegal immigration is almost the only immigration news covered by major news companies. Because of this, immigration reform is a hot topic for debate for practically every political candidate in the United States.
The process for immigration is generally the same in every country except for a certain few where refugee status is offered. After someone attains a passport, they can apply for a visa to the country they wish to visit or move to. Visas can vary greatly depending on the country, and whether the trip or stay is for work, pleasure, or education. The Visa period typically ranges anywhere from a few months to a few years with strict renewal procedures, so an immigration attorney is highly advised if an extended stay is planned anywhere. Additionally, many countries have education and/or income requirements for those wishing to gain permanent residency.
Permanent immigration status can be initiated by a U.S. citizen or other permanent resident to help others lawfully enter the country. This is called family-based immigration, and this method is responsible for the majority of legal emigration to the United States.
Deportation is a civil process by which immigrants are expelled from the country back to their country of origin. In addition to illegally entering the United States or committing a crime, other offenses that can lead to deportation include falsifying a visa application, overstaying a visa, and failing to renew a visa. Even those with valid visas and legal immigration status can be deported depending on the type of crime committed. Extradition, on the other hand, is the transfer of a person accused of a crime from one country or state to another that wishes to put the accused on trial.
The Department of Homeland Security oversees all matters concerning immigrants to the United States. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is the department which receives and manages new immigration requests and applications for those wishing to enter legally.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) is the primary department for dealing with deportations and general law breaking matters for immigrants. Finally, Customs and Border Protection is responsible for securing the borders and combating illegal immigration.