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Immigration Law: Government Agencies

Department of Homeland Security

U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Logo

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) contains the following agencies:

  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
    "U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is the government agency that oversees lawful immigration to the United States."
    Sections of the website include Forms, News, Resources, Laws and Outreach.  The Laws section includes Federal Register announcements, the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), public laws amending the INA, the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), BIA decisions, and policy memoranda.
  • U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
    .S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the second largest investigative agency in the federal government.  Created in 2003 through a merger of the investigative and interior enforcement elements of the U.S. Customs Service and the Immigration and Naturalization Service ... ICE's primary mission is to promote homeland security and public safety through the criminal and civil enforcement of federal laws governing border control, customs, trade, and immigration."
  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
    "CBP is one of the Department of Homeland Security’s largest and most complex components, with a priority mission of keeping terrorists and their weapons out of the U.S.  It also has a responsibility for securing and facilitating trade and travel while enforcing hundreds of U.S. regulations, including immigration and drug laws."

Department of Justice

United States Department of Justice Seal

The Department of Justice contains the following agencies:

  • Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR)
    "The primary mission of the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) is to adjudicate immigration cases by fairly, expeditiously, and uniformly interpreting and administering the Nation's immigration laws.  Under delegated authority from the Attorney General, EOIR conducts immigration court proceedings, appellate reviews, and administrative hearings."
    The EOIR oversees adjudications of DHS administrative actions, the immigration judges, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), the Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Office (OCAHO), and the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO).  The main page has links to immigration courts nationwide and to the Immigration Court Practice Manual and other publications.
    • EOIR Virtual Law Library
      The Virtual Law Library serves as a complement to the Law Library and Immigration Research Center and "attempts to organize immigration-related legal resources, as well as the decisions rendered by EOIR's component agencies, into a format easily accessible to all users."
      Includes links to Attorney General (AG) and BIA decisions and index, OCAHO decisions, AG and BIA Precedent Decisions, C.F.R. Title 8, Immigration-related notices in the Federal Register (FR), the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), BIA Practice Manual, immigration courts control list, practitioner roster, and State Department Links.

    • Asylum Statistics by Nationality
      EOIR's frequently requested FOIA information.

  • Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC)
    "The Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC), in the Civil Rights Division, is responsible for enforcing the anti-discrimination provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. § 1324b, which protect U.S. citizens and certain work authorized individuals from employment discrimination based upon citizenship or immigration status. The INA also protects all work authorized individuals from national origin discrimination, unfair documentary practices relating to the employment eligibility verification process, and from retaliation."

Department of Labor


  • U.S. Department of Labor
    U.S. employers must go through a process called "labor certification" with the Department of Labor in order to hire foreign workers.  If an employer's labor certification application is denied, the employer can appeal to the Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (BALCA).  For general information, see the page for Foreign Labor

    • Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC)
      Provides links on the many issues involved in submitting a labor certification application, including forms.
    • The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)
      The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) sets forth the conditions for the temporary and permanent employment of aliens in the United States and includes provisions that address employment eligibility and employment verification. These provisions apply to all employers."
      Overview and U.S. DOL Compliance Assistance. 
  • Office of Administrative Law Judges Law Library, Immigration Collection
    Provides access to decisions from the Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (BALCA) and several other types of immigration-related decisions.  Includes links to Judge's Benchbook: Alien Labor Certification, 2d ed., Dictionary of Occupational Titles, selected statutes and regulations, and agency contact information.

Department of State

Seal of the United States Department of State

  • U.S. Department of State
    The State Department is responsible for issuance of visas.  It publishes the Foreign Affairs Manual, which contains information on citizenship and nationality and interpretations and instructions on provisions for issuing visas and waivers.  The monthly Visa Bulletin, which shows the waiting times for immigrant visas in different categories and from different countries, is available on the State Department's website.



USCIS Glossary

Immigration law has a number of highly technical terms that are provided in this glossary of immigration terms and acronyms.