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Immigration Law Enforcement

Congress enacts immigration laws primarily under the power granted by the naturalization clause of the Constitution. These laws are enforced by a number of agencies, including:

  • Citizenship and Immigration Services (replacing the Immigration and Naturalization Service): The CIS oversees and approves petitions for immigration benefits for purposes of citizenship, lawful permanent residency, family- and employment-related immigration, inter-country adoptions, asylum and refugee immigration, and authorization for foreign students seeking education in the U.S.
  • Immigration adoptions: Adoption of a child born abroad does not guarantee that the child can immigrate to the U.S. The CIS allows two ways to legally immigrate an adopted child into the U.S., and all qualifications must be met before the child enters the U.S.:
    1. I-130 petition for a child adopted before the child turns 16 (or 18 if the adopted child is also the biological sibling of a child adopted by the same parents) and residing with the adopting parent for two years.
    2. I-600 petition for adoption of an orphan before the child turns 16 (or 18 if the orphan is also the sibling of a child adopted by the same parents before the child’s 18th birthday). The adoption may occur when the child comes to the U.S.
  • National Visa Center: Upon approval of the immigration petition, the center handles the document processing and fee collection for the U.S. embassies and consulates.
  • State Department: Manages U.S. visa and passport policies and procedures.
  • Visa waiver program: Enables screened nationals from certain countries to apply to visit the U.S. for 90 days or fewer for the purpose of tourism or business using a machine-readable passport, provided that the passport is valid for six months after the visit to the U.S.

Last update: Sept. 25, 2008

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