How the Immigration System Works

The United States has long-been a beacon of hope for individuals around the world seeking protection and refuge. Our immigration policies must continue to protect those who need it. Learn more about how America can continue to provide humanitarian protection to those in times of crisis.

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All How the Immigration System Works Content

November 25, 2019
There is no line available for unauthorized immigrants and the “regular channels” do not include them.
October 10, 2019
U.S. immigration law is very complex, and there is much confusion as to how it works. This fact sheet provides basic information about how the U.S. legal immigration system is designed.
May 21, 2019
This fact sheet provides an overview of how Temporary Protected Status designations are made, what benefits TPS confers, and how TPS beneficiaries apply for and regularly renew their status.
July 18, 2018
This fact sheet provides an overview of how USCIS calculates processing times and the concerns over the accuracy of these estimates.
June 11, 2018
Some confusion exists regarding the economic aspects of family-based immigration. To help unpack those aspects, this report focuses on one of them—namely, the earnings of family-based immigrants.
May 14, 2018
Asylum seekers must navigate a difficult and complex process that can involve multiple government agencies. This fact sheet provides an overview of the asylum system in the United States, including...
November 13, 2017
This fact sheet provides an overview of the diversity visa program, the requirements and security checks currently in place, and demographic information about recipients.
March 21, 2017
This fact sheet explains detainers, how they are used by federal and local enforcement, and the impact they have on immigrants.
September 13, 2016
Current U.S. immigration law provides several paths for foreign workers to enter the United States for employment purposes on a temporary or permanent basis. This fact sheet provides basic...
December 14, 2015

Americans pride themselves on belonging to a nation of immigrants. In fact, many Americans celebrate not only the traditions of the United States, but the traditions of the countries from which...

July 16, 2019
The statement highlights the Council’s concerns regarding systemic U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services delays in responding to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.
December 11, 2018
The American Immigration Council, with the American Immigration Lawyers Association, filed comments because a financial litmus test should never serve as a measure for who we welcome into our country.
February 6, 2016
The statement shares our analysis and research regarding the children and families that have fled Central American violence to the United States.
October 21, 2015
The statement shares our research and analysis regarding the children and families that have fled Central American violence to the United States.
July 21, 2015
The statement highlights that immigrants are less likely to be serious criminals than the native-born and that high rates of immigration are associated with lower rates of violent crimes and property crimes.
July 7, 2015
The statement highlights our revised report, A Guide to Children Arriving at the Border: Laws, Policies and Responses (June 2015), which explains why children are fleeing their homes in Central America, what happens to the children once they are in U.S. custody, and what the government has done in response.
October 21, 2019

The ideology of President Trump is about more than limiting how many immigrants enter the United States each year; it’s about turning back the clock on U.S. social history. A recent analysis by...

August 13, 2019

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published the final version of its new “public charge” regulation on Monday morning. The rule would make it easier for the government to deny a green card...

June 7, 2019

Applications for permanent residence and other immigration benefits are taking longer than ever to process. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the agency responsible for...

April 25, 2019

The White House issued a memo on Monday directing the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security to provide recommendations to reduce visa overstays. The recommendations, which are expected within...

March 27, 2019

When the U.S. government orders that an immigrant in its custody must be deported, the person isn’t supposed to remain incarcerated for long. Yet the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) often...

March 15, 2019

Many of the country’s top immigration agencies operate in secret. This lack of transparency in how immigration laws are implemented, administered, and enforced has the potential to devastate the...

February 6, 2019

Speaking before Congress and the nation Tuesday evening, President Trump once again promised bipartisanship and instead delivered division. When it came to immigration, the president neither...

February 4, 2019

The Trump administration has slowed the processing of immigration benefit applications to a crawl, causing needless harm to immigrants, their families, and their employers. Under President Trump,...

January 23, 2019

New estimates of the undocumented population in the United States confirm a trend that has been apparent for several years: the number of people who become undocumented each year by overstaying...

August 12, 2019
The Department of Homeland Security announced a new regulation that redefines who can be considered a “public charge” under immigration law. The new regulation will likely have a chilling effect on America’s family-based immigration system, drastically limiting who will be permitted into the United States.
November 21, 2018
The American Immigration Council announced today that it will focus on the critical need for access to an attorney when navigating the immigration system during its #GivingTuesday and year-end fundraising campaign starting November 27.
November 8, 2018
The Trump administration revealed today a new interim final regulation that restricts access to asylum at the border, causing chaos and uncertainty for many seeking protection.
October 30, 2018
President Donald Trump said yesterday in an interview that he plans to sign an executive order to eliminate birthright citizenship, a principle enshrined in the U.S. Constitution that grants citizenship to any person born within the territory of the United States.
June 12, 2018
Through analysis of data from the decennial census and administrative data from the Immigration and Naturalization Service, this special report examines the earnings gains over time of all immigrants, as well as the earnings gains experienced by family-based immigrants compared to employment-based immigrants.
November 25, 2019
There is no line available for unauthorized immigrants and the “regular channels” do not include them.
October 21, 2019

The ideology of President Trump is about more than limiting how many immigrants enter the United States each year; it’s about turning back the clock on U.S. social history. A recent analysis by...

October 10, 2019
U.S. immigration law is very complex, and there is much confusion as to how it works. This fact sheet provides basic information about how the U.S. legal immigration system is designed.
August 13, 2019

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published the final version of its new “public charge” regulation on Monday morning. The rule would make it easier for the government to deny a green card...

August 12, 2019
The Department of Homeland Security announced a new regulation that redefines who can be considered a “public charge” under immigration law. The new regulation will likely have a chilling effect on America’s family-based immigration system, drastically limiting who will be permitted into the United States.
July 16, 2019
The statement highlights the Council’s concerns regarding systemic U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services delays in responding to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.
June 7, 2019

Applications for permanent residence and other immigration benefits are taking longer than ever to process. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the agency responsible for...

May 21, 2019
This fact sheet provides an overview of how Temporary Protected Status designations are made, what benefits TPS confers, and how TPS beneficiaries apply for and regularly renew their status.
April 25, 2019

The White House issued a memo on Monday directing the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security to provide recommendations to reduce visa overstays. The recommendations, which are expected within...

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