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Immigration Law: Primary Sources

After the creation of the Department of Homeland Security in 2003 after the September 11 attacks, the enforcement of immigration laws was transferred from the Immigration and Naturalization Service(INS) to the Department of Homeland Security.


For the primary sources, you will look at statutes, regulations, federal decisions, and administrative decisions. You will learn selective primary sources and their application throughout immigration law courses. The structure of statutes was mainly established by the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 (INA), so called McCarran-Walter Act in 1952, subsequently revised and amended by different acts and treaties including NAFTA. And the regulations are mainly codified in Title 8, 20, 22, and 28 of the Code of Federal Regulations(CFR) and are issued by a variety of governmental bodies including the Department of Homeland Security(DHS), the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), the Department of Justice, the Department of Labor, the Department of Public Health Service, the Department of Justice, etc. Furthermore, there are cases by federal courts and administrative decisions by administrative judges, the Board of Immigration Appeals(BIA), the Office of Chief Administrative Hearing Officer(OCAHO), the Administrative Appeals Office(AAO), INS General Council, the Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals(BALCA), etc.



Immigration Precedent DecisionsThese administrative decisions are selected and designated as precedent. The BIA is not a Federal court, but their decisions are subject to judicial review in the Federal courts. Federal courts give greater deference to precedent decisions as well as to unpublished decisions in which the same legal reasoning of a precedent decision was followed. LexisAdvance

Immigration Non-Precedent DecisionsThese decisions apply existing law and policy to the facts of a given case. These decisions do not announce new constructions of law nor establish agency policy. As a result, non-precedent decisions do not provide a basis for applying new or alternative interpretations of law or policy. LexisAdvance

Federal Statutes & Regulations


Legal > Area of Law - By Topic > Immigration > Find Statutes & Regulations

Ø  USCS - Immigration - Titles 8, 18, 29 and 42

Ø  United States Statutes at Large

Ø  CFR - Immigration Titles 

·         This file contains the selected titles from the Code of Federal Regulations(CFR).   The included titles are: Title 8. Aliens and Nationality; Title 20. Employee's Benefits; Title 22. Foreign Relations; Title 28. Judicial Administration Act; Title 29. Labor; Title 42. Public Health

Ø  Federal Register and CFR - Immigration

·         WESTLAW

Ø  FIM-USCA: Federal Immigration - U.S. Code Annotated

Ø  FIM-CFR: Federal Immigration - Code of Federal Regulations

Ø  FIM-FR: Federal Immigration –Federal Register

Ø  FIM-INA: Federal Immigration – Immigration and Nationality Act

·         AILA Link

Ø  Statues & Regulations: INA, 8 USC Provisions Not in INA, Additional Statutory Provisions, Public Laws (1995-), CFR, and Federal Register

·         Immigration and Nationality Laws of the United States: Selected Statutes, Regulations and Forms / Thomas Alexander Aleinikoff et al. / West 

Ø  Law Stacks, KF4805 .99 .U55 

Pending Statutes

·         LEXIS: Legal>Area of Law - By Topic > Immigration >Search News >

Ø  Bender’s Immigration Bulletin (1996-)

·         Looseleaf updated bimonthly. Serves as an authoritative and comprehensive source for the latest in immigration news, case digests, regulations, and government documents.

·         WESTLAW:

Ø  INTERREL: Interpreter Releases.

·         Law Stacks, KF4802 .I57 (cancelled in 2004).

·        Begins with January 1987. Updated 48 times each year. Interpreter Releases provides weekly analysis of legislative, administrative, and judicial developments related to immigration law.


Ø  FIM-BILLTXT: Federal Immigration Bills (1995-) 

·         AILA InfoNet: Current legislation page

Organized by bill numbers and shows information on status, committee activities, amendments, sponsors. Also provides the link to bill text or latest amendments from Thomas.

Federal Decisions


·         Legal>Area of Law – By Topic >Immigration >Find Cases> Federal Immigration Cases

·         Legal>Area of Law – By Topic >Immigration >Find Cases> Federal Immigration Cases and Administrative Decisions


·         FIM-CS: Federal Immigration – Cases 

·         FIM-SCT: Federal Immigration - Supreme Court Cases 

·         FIM-CTA: Federal Immigration - Courts of Appeals Cases

·         FIM-DCT: Federal Immigration - District Courts Cases

Ø  Federal Immigration Law Reporter

·         Selected court cases and administrative agency decisions between 1983-1989

Ø  Selected Refugee Cases (1984-2000)

·         University of Minnesota, Human Rights Library


Executive Structure

·        LEXIS Legal> Area of Law – By Topic > Immigration > Find Administrative Materials 

Ø  Federal Immigration Agency Decisions (1940 - )

·         Decisions from the Attorney General of the United States (AG), Department of Justice Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), Administrative Appeals Unit (subsequently "Administrative Appeals Office"), the Department of Labor Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals, and the Department of Justice Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer (OCAHO).

Ø  Immigration Precedent Decisions (1940 - ) 

·         Decisions of the Department of Justice Board of Immigration Appeals(BIA); U.S. Department of Homeland Security Administrative Appeals Office (AAO, formerly AAU); and the Attorney General (AG) of the United States.

Ø  Immigration Non-Precedent Decisions: BIA, AAO/AAU

·         Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) & AAU Non-Precedent Decisions contains selected Non-Precedent Decisions from the BIA & AAU.

Ø  Office of Chief Admin. Hearing Officer Immigration Review Decisions (1988-)

·         Decisions from the Department of Justice Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer, Executive Office for Immigration Review.

Ø  Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals Decisions (Feb11 , 1987 - )

·         Decisions of the Department of Labor Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals.

·        WESTLAW

Ø  FIM-ADMIN: Federal Immigration Administrative Decisions Combined

Ø  FIM-BIA (1940-): Federal Immigration - Board of Immigration Appeals' Administrative Decisions

Ø  FIM-AAU (1989-): Federal Immigration - Administrative Appeals Unit Decisions

Ø  FIM-OCAHO (1988-): Federal Immigration - Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer

Ø  FIM-BALCA (1987-): Federal Immigration - Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals

Ø  FIM-GCO (1991-): Federal Immigration - General Counsel Opinions

·        Prints: Index

Ø  Cumulative Indexes to Board Precedent Decisions


Ø  Hein's Cumulative Index to Interim Precedent Decisions of the Board of Immigration Appeals

·         Buffalo, NY: W.S. Hein, 1992-2000

·         Law Stacks, KF4812.7 .H45

Ø  Cumulative Topical Index of Published and Indexed Decisions

·         Available at the OCAHO page of the EOIR website.

·         Law Stacks, KF4829 .A558 (8-I)

·        Prints: Full-text

Ø  Administrative Decisions under Employer Sanctions & Unfair Immigration-related Employment Practices Laws / U.S. Department of Justice, G.P.O.

·         Law Stacks, KF4829 .A558

·         Published (precedent) decisions are also available at the EOIR Virtual Law Library with the title of OCAHO Decisions:

Ø  Administrative Decisions under Immigration & Nationality Laws (I. & N. Dec.). (1940-2009) / Department of Justice, G.P.O.

·         Law Stacks,  KF4812.A2 U55

·         Beginning with vol. 23 (2000 to 2006), issued in online format only with title: AG/BIA Decisions Listing in EOIR Virtual Law Library (VLL) (

Ø  Bender’s Immigration Case Reporter (former, Immigration Law and Procedure Reporter)/Matthew Bender (1985-2007)

·         Law Stacks, KF4815 .I46 (updated through Rel. 269 (July 2007)

·         This multi-volume looseleaf set used to be updated monthly. It includes federal cases, BIA, AAO(AAU) precedent decisions from 1984 and selected BALCA, and OCAHO decisions. The set also includes bulletins, primary source material, and practice materials.

Ø  Bender’s Immigration Bulletin /Matthew Bender (1995-)

·         Available at Lexis.

·         Contains digests of federal, Attorney General, BIA and AAO decisions. Formerly part of Bender’s Immigration Case Reporter, abbreviated Immigr. Rep.

Ø  Decisions of the Office of Administrative Law Judges and Office of Administrative Appeals / U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Administrative Law Judges

·         Available at OALJ (Office of Administrative Law Judges) Law Library, Immigration Collection   

·         Also available at LLMC Digital

Ø  Hein's Interim Decisions Service to Administrative Decisions under Immigration and Nationality Laws, U.S. Department of Justice /Hein

·         Current decisions are also published in online format in vol. 25 under AG/BIA Decisions Listing in EOIR Virtual Law Library (VLL) (