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Immigration Law: Secondary 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.


You may also want to look at secondary sources such as looseleaf services, treatises, journals, etc. These will be the best starting point for your research because these provide you with current awareness services and references to statutes, regulations, and any decisions relevant to your specific issues. You may be frustrated by the complexity of immigration sources if you are simply looking at the annotated statute, following the references to regulations and spending enormous time in finding any relevant federal and administrative decisions. The best research skill in the immigration law is drawing a big regulatory landscape based on each topic and key term such as removal, deportation, criminal offense, visa application, etc. by the assistance of the secondary sources.

Additionally, if you are a practitioner preparing various documents for your client’s visa application and the change of his/her status, you may want to go to websites of various administrative bodies  such as  USCIS(U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services under the Department of Homeland Security), the U.S. Department of Labor, the U.S. Department of State, etc.

Government Resources

Statue of Liberty

US CITIZENSHIP & IMMIGRATION SERVICES ("USCIS"): USCIS was previously known as the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services ("BCIS"), created under the auspices of the US Department of Homeland Security's ("DHS") Homeland Security Act of 2002 ("HSA"). On October 13, 2004, the DHS issued a Federal Register notice of a name change from BCIS to USCIS.

Westlaw Includes:

  • Administrative Appeals Office Decisions
  • Other Immigration Manuals, Memoranda & Guidance Documents (Affirmative Asylum Procedures Manual, Detention Operations Manual, Guide to Naturalization, NAFTA Handbook)
  • Policy & Procedural Memoranda

Policy ManualProvides guidance on the adjudication of various applications and petitions filed for immigration and naturalization benefits and deal with specific applications, discussing general matters, basic requirements, issues and actions relating to those applications. It also provides statistical reports and administration of the Adjudications program. Westlaw

This is the centralized online repository for immigration policies, which will ultimately replace the Adjudicator's Field Manual ("AFM"), as available to the public from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services ("USCIS") administration. The USCIS, part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, provides this manual to assist field officers in their daily responsibilities. A document is a section of text, an appendix, a table, or a table of contents. Until the transition is complete, USCIS officers will use those current policies stated in the 1) AFM (Westlaw), 2) policy memoranda, and 3) USCIS Policy Manual.

USCIS' REFUGEE, ASYLUM, AND INTERNATIONAL OPERATIONS DIRECTORATE ("RAIO"): Oversees, plans, and implements policies related to asylum seekers and refugees, and provides US immigration services overseas with US embassies and US points of entry, as well as within the continental US. Works closely with other governmental agencies (e.g. DHS, Department of Defense, and US Intelligence Community) and charity and aid organizations, foreign nations, and intergovernmental organizations.

Affirmative Asylum Procedures Manual ("AAPM")Updated and revised as of May 2016. Provides information on how to process an affirmative asylum application within an Asylum Office, consisting of [5] sections: USCIS / AILA

Section I Background Information: References with which all asylum personnel should be familiar in order to process an asylum application
Section II The Affirmative Asylum Application: Follows the processing of an application from the point at which an applicant receives a blank asylum application, through the issuance of a decision by the USCIS
Section III Expanded Topics: Provides more detail on some topics referenced in Section II, and includes topics that may cause an asylum application to be handled differently from the norm
Section IV How-To: Explains how to prepare certain documents that Asylum Office personnel issue to applicants in support of a decision to approve, deny, or refer an asylum application
Section V Appendices

US IMMIGRATION AND NATURALIZATION SERVICE ("INS")Agency no longer exists, albeit that some secondary sources still refer to it.

  • 1933-1940: Agency under the US Department of Labor
  • 1940-2003: Agency under the US Department of Justice
  • March 1, 2003: Most INS activities transferred to:
INS Activity Transferred Agency
Administration of immigration services (e.g. permanent residence), naturalization, asylum USCIS
Investigative and enforcement functions (e.g. investigations, deportation, and intelligence) US Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE")

Border functions (e.g. Border Patrol and INS Inspectors

US Customs and Border Protection ("CBP")

largest federal agency of the DHS

USCIS' ​Westlaw page Includes:

  • INS General Counsel Opinions
  • INS Interpretations

INS Inspector's Field Manual: Details official CBP policies and procedures for CBP's immigration mission. The IFM should be used with the Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA” or “Act”), Title 8 of the Code of Federal Regulations (8 CFR), official CBP directives, et al. Westlaw

INS Training Materials: This is the Basic Law Manual and materials on Asylum Officer Basic Training. As such, it houses information on international immigration law in regards to refugees and asylum. Westlaw

DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE ("DOJ"): Under delegated authority from the US Attorney General, the primary mission of the DOJ's Executive Office for Immigration Review ("EOIR") is to conduct immigration court proceedings, appellate reviews, and administrative hearings primarily through the DOJ EOIR's Board of Immigration Appeals ("BIA").

Prior to January 9, 1983 INS operated BIA. Conflict of interest, enforcing itself as INS was charged with enforcement of Federal immigration laws.
January 9, 1983

EOIR created as separate DOJ agency and BIA transferred to EOIR

Now Immigration Courts independent of INS

1987 DOJ's Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer ("OCAHO") added. OCAHO responsible for general supervision and management of Administrative Law Judges.

BIA: This is the highest administrative body for interpreting and applying immigration laws and has nationwide jurisdiction to hear appeals of decisions rendered by immigration judges and by district judges of the DHS in which the US Government is one party. It does not conduct courtroom proceedings but appeals conducted by "paper review" of cases (occasionally, BIA hears oral arguments of appealed cases which are usually from its Falls Church, Virginia headquarters).

Most appeals Orders of removal and applications for relief from removal
Other appeals

Exclusion of aliens applying for admission to the US

Petitions to classify the status of alien relatives for the issuance of preference immigrant visas

Fines imposed upon carriers for the violation of immigration laws

Motions for reopening and reconsideration of decisions previous rendered

BIA decisions are binding on all DHS officers and immigration judges, unless modified or overruled by 1) the US Attorney General, or 2) federal court. BIA decisions designated for publication (most are not) are available at Administrative Decisions Under Immigration and Nationality Laws of the United States.

Immigration Court Practice Manual: Published by the US Department of Justice's Executive Office for Immigration Review ("EOIR"), this guides attorneys and representatives on practice before the immigration courts. DOJ Website / Westlaw / KF4819 .E55 2008

BIA Practice Manual: US Department of Justice's Board of Immigration Appeals ("BIA") Practice Manual guides attorneys and representatives on practice before the Board. DOJ Website


Chapter 2.2 Unrepresented aliens ("pro se")
Chapter 2.3 ATTORNEYS
Chapter 2.4


Accredited representatives approved by the Office of Legal Access Programs ("OLAP") to represent aliens before the BIA, Immigration Courts, and/or DHS. Individual must work for a specific nonprofit religious, charitable, social service, or similar organization recognized by OLAP to represent aliens. Recognition & Accreditation (R&A) Program.

Chapters 2.5-2.9

Expressly recognized by the BIA

2.5: Law students and law graduates

2.6: Paralegals

2.7: Immigration Specialists (including visa consultants and "notarios")

2.8: Family Members

2.9: Others

Attorneys (2.3) and fully accredited representatives who are accredited to appear before EOIR (2.4) must register with EOIR's eRegistry (will get unique EOIR ID number). Failing to provide required registration information risks being administratively suspended from practice before EOIR.

AILA Publications


AMERICAN IMMIGRATION LAWYERS ASSOCIATION ("AILA"): Founded on October 14, 1946, AILA is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit voluntary bar association headquartered in Washington, D.C. with 38 chapters, +50 national committees, and +15,000 attorneys and law professors. Its activities include assistance in securing permanent residency for individuals and corporations, and pro bono work include representation of foreign students, entertainers, athletes, and asylum seekers, It also provides continuing legal education, information, professional services and expertise. Its publications are peer-reviewed.

Online Access: AILA's publications are available online, but are restricted to NUSL's (NOT general Northeastern community) faculty, students, and staff (max 15 users at a time). AILA Link Online


Practical overview of US immigration law (from passage of first immigration-related statute to current state of affairs) , and essential elements and principes. KF4819 .B67 201 (AILA Link Online)

Kurzban's Immigration Law Sourcebook: Published since 1990, Kurzban is regarded as a "go-to" legal reference on US immigration law for practitioners, students, and faculty. It is updated annually and includes comprehensive overviews on cases, legislative history, regulations, statutes, and agency rulings. It has been cited in case decisions (e.g. ineffective assistance of counsel in U.S. v. Juarez, 672 F.3d 381 (5th Cir. 2012)). It addresses recent changes to US immigration law under the Trump administration, such as changes to removal policies, humanitarian programs, visas, and programs and benefits abjudications. KF4819.3 .K87 (AILA Link Online)

Navigating the Fundamentals of Immigration Law: +500 pages of advice and guidance, along with descriptions of the most common visa classifications. It is designed to be a "core curriculum" handbook focusing on the fundamental elements of immigration law and practice. (AILA Link Online only)

Immigration Practice Pointers: Tips for Handling Complex Cases: ~1900 pages of practical advice and guidance by immigration law practitioners, including advanced immigration law topics such as employment-based NIVs, labor certification (PERM), and worksite enforcement. KF 4819.A2 A415 (AILA Link Online)


Asylum Primer: A Practical Guide to US Asylum Law and Procedure: Covers the entire US asylum process (from asylum-seekers entry to US citizenship acquisition), asylum advocacy (e.g. seeking asylum protection at the border and representing asylum seekers with removal orders, and client representation skills and how to meet your clients' burden of proof), and US asylum law sources and historical development. Recent updates include gang violence and gender-based persecution including of social groups, nexus, persecution by non-state actors, internal relocation, and discretion (e.g. Matter of A-B- and Grace v. Whitaker), attorney certifications, new BIA case law (e.g. Matter of E-F-H-L-, Matter of Castro Tum, Matter of A-B-, Matter of L-A-B-R-, Matter of S-O-G- & F-O-B-, Matter of M-G-G-and Matter of M-S-, Matter of Negusie, and Matter of L-E-A-), and changes in immigration court practice especially in regards to Trump administration's proclamations, executive orders, and policy changes affecting:

  • family separation and reunification;
  • increased detention of asylum seekers;
  • "Remain in Mexico" and the Migration Protection Protocols;
  • “last in, first out” processing of affirmative asylum claims;
  • the refugee travel ban;
  • the "asylum ban"; and
  • the border wall. KF4836 .G47 2007 (AILA Link Online)

National Lawyers Guild Publications (Westlaw)

National Lawyers Guild Logo

Founded in 1937 and headquartered in New York, the National Lawyers Guild ("NLG") is the US' oldest and largest progressive bar association, and the first to be racially integrated. It was founded as an alternative to the ABA in protest of ABA's exclusionary membership practices and conservative political orientation, and was the first US bar association to allow admission of minorities.

NATIONAL IMMIGRATION PROJECT: Authored most NLG publications which were previously paper looseleaf services and have now gone paperless.

US Citizenship and Naturalization Handbook: Provides in-depth examination of current naturalization (including recently enacted legislation) procedures and forms, step-by-step guidance from the filing of the application through admission to citizenship (including wild cards such as the way citizenship can vest automatically), analysis of primary law, agency cables and memoranda, and forms. Also has comprehensive overview of history and development of US citizenship and naturalization law. Westlaw

Immigration Law & Defense: Concise explanation of key aspects of immigration law with extensive references to judicial decisions and federal regulations, parallel citations to the U.S. Code and the Immigration and Nationality Act, and more than 90 forms. Westlaw / KF8925.E4 I55

Immigration Law & Crimes: Examines the immigration consequences of criminal activity on non-citizens. Includes sample pleadings and forms. Westlaw

Immigration Law & the Family: Detailed analysis of the law and procedure governing the acquisition of lawful permanent residence status in the United States through a family relationship.


ILRC Publications (only via ILL)

IMMIGRATION LEGAL RESOURCE CENTER ("ILRC"): ILRC originated in 1979 by Bill Ong Hing (immigrant rights attorney) in the wake of the civil rights movement and the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 ("Hart-Celler Act").Previously known as the Golden Gate Immigration Clinic, as California was a major gateway for the influx of immigrants resulting from the Hart-Celler Act.

Inter-Library Loan (ILL): Currently, the ILRC resources are only available via ILL to current NUSL faculty, staff and students.

A Guide for Immigration Advocates: How-to manual and illustrates concepts with applications, charts, and examples. Provides further resources (e.g. books, Internet research, systems for identifying the potential remedies in a case, and case management techniques). ILRC

Naturalization and US Citizenship: The Essential Legal Guide: 15 eds. Designed for attorneys and practitioners working with community-based organizations. Sample forms, Immigration Service memos, practice guides. Discusses USCIS Policy Manual updates. ILRC Covers topics such as:

  • Nuances of naturalization applicant's "sufficient good moral character" to qualify for naturalization;
  • The effects of absence on naturalization application;
  • Newest N-400 form.

Essentials of Asylum Law: Legal theories and rules underpinning current asylum claims, including each of legal elements of asylum claim. ILRC:

  • Definition of persecution -> requirements to demonstrate "well-founded fear" of persecution;
  • Five enumerated grounds;
  • Nexus requirement; and
  • Current formulations of particular social groups.

Bars to asylum and alternative relief options (namely Withholding of Removal and protection under the Convention Against Torture).

Affirmative Application Defensive Application
Filed with USCIS Immigration court

T Visas: A Critical Immigration Option for Survivors of Human Trafficking: Representing human trafficking survivor in immigration case (T nonimmigrant status, adjustment applications, Form I-914 nonimmigrant status applications). ILRC

DACA: The Essential Legal Guide: Based on ILRC's two decades of community education, outreach, training and technical assistance on issues impacting immigrant youth, including what applicants can do after they receive DACA such as travel on advance parole and sometimes even adjust their status to permanent residence. Sample documents and forms, practice advisories, guides, and examples demonstrating legal concepts. ILRC

MATTHEW BENDER & CO. INC. (LexisAdvance)

Matthew Bender logo

In 2000, Times Mirror Company sold its Matthew Bender & Company ("Bender") publications and 50% share of Shepard's to British-Dutch publishing giant Reed Elsevier for $1.65 billion in cash. Bender publications are cited by courts with 40% more frequency than any other secondary source.


Goldon, Mailman, Yale-Loehr & Wada Immigration Law and Procedure


Considered the flagship immigration treatise. Seems to supplant the popular but now out-of-print PERM Guidebook for Foreign Labor Certification, which was a database of nine comprehensive chapters providing a complete analysis of the DOL's Final PERM Rule (issued December 27, 2004 and taking into effect March 28, 2005), which implemented a new system of labor certification for the permanent employment of US aliens. LexisAdvance

Immigration and Nationality Act ("INA") Service Biannually Contains INA in its entirety. Footnote references indicate origin of major amendments to INA, notes contain text of selected ancillary provisions of law not enacted as part of INA, and appendix contains selected non-INA sections of Title 8 (Aliens and Nationalty). LexisAdvance
Immigration Regulations Service Monthly From 1989. 8 CFR, DOS, DOJ, DOL, and HHS Regulations. LexisAdvance
Immigration Law Practice Expediter Quarterly Practice Guide/Roadmap to all the main areas of immigration law, it leads the user through visas and other immigration processes in a very practical way, while referencing and linking out to the treatise or primary source sections relevant to the particular task being performed by the user. LexisAdvance
J Visa Handbook Annually

One-stop resource for dealing with questions related to the exchange visitor nonimmigrant visa program, covering the regulations on aliens and advising program sponsors how to comply with these regulations. Includes history of exchange visitor program, sponsorship requirements for each exchange visitor category. Subjects ranging from the appointment of responsible program officers and the preparation of DS-2019, to recordkeeping requirements, the supervision of J-1 program participants, and sanctions for noncompliance. LexisAdvance

Immigration Official Forms Annually LexisAdvance
Modern Privacy & Surveillance Law Annually

First major treatise on USA PATRIOT Act, emphasizing the practical implications, burdens and options for organizations and individuals cooperating with and subject to government evolving reporting requirements, information requests and surveillance. USA PATRIOT Act was drafted and enacted in six weeks in wake of 9/11, and have already encountered constitutional problems (e.g. surveillance and database tracking). LexisAdvance

FRAGOMEN Immigration Handbooks (Westlaw)


FRAGOMEN: Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy LLP ("Fragomen"), established in 1951 and headquartered in New York, is the world's largest firm focusing its practice solely on global immigration law. This series is authored by Chairman of Fragomen's Executive Committee, Austin T. Fragomen, Jr., et al.


Immigration Legislation Handbook: Recent immigration bills (both enacted and proposed) and executive actions on immigration are discussed in detail with their practical impact in mind. This also reports on a number of important developments in the past year with regard to immigration legislation enacted in past years. Westlaw

Immigration Procedures Handbook: Immigration Procedures Handbook, replaced annually, simplifies the process of preparing and presenting immigration petitions, forms, and applications. Westlaw

H-1B Handbook: H-1B Handbook, replaced annually, provides practical advice and forms essential for navigating the H-1B nonimmigrant visa approval process with all the rules, regulations, forms, supporting documentation, legal discussion, and citations to case law needed to obtain H-1B status. Westlaw


Immigration Law & Business: This addresses the immigration concerns of corporations and other businesses. It provides in-depth coverage of immigration legislation and its impact upon immigration practice. Westlaw

Global Business Immigration Handbook: This provides immigration professionals (including, but not exclusive to attorneys, human resources professionals, and relocation specialists) with comprehensive information on global mobility. Each chapter covers a major business immigration destination and is organized around a standard template that aims to highlight common issues confronting employers, international assignees, and their family members. Westlaw

Labor Certification Handbook: Labor Certification Handbook provides practical, "how-to" guidance on the entire process of obtaining labor certification for aliens under the Department of Labor's PERM regulation, from the client interview through approval or denial. Westlaw

Immigration Employment Compliance Handbook:  This handbook will help you comply with federal employment eligibility and discrimination requirements under the Immigration Control and Reform Act of 1986 (IRCA) and other federal legislation and regulations in the areas of employment discrimination and employer sanctions. Westlaw

  • State Immigration Employment Compliance Handbook: This handbook will help you comply with employment-related immigration issues at the state level. Massachusetts: Subject to EO 481 (signed on February 23, 2007), the Massachusetts executive branch has a policy of prohibiting the use of undocumented workers in the performance of state contract, applying to all agencies in the Massachusetts executive branch. All contracts with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts must certify (with a CERTIFICATION FORM available from the Commonwealth's Office of the Comptroller) that they will not knowingly use undocumented workers in connection with the performance of any state contract, verify the immigration status, and not accept altered or falsified documents. Breaches of these contract terms are subject to sanctions.  Westlaw / KF4829 .S73


Immigration Practice: Authored by Robert C. Divine, Partner and leader of Immigration Group of Baker Donelson, one reviewer says it "is like having an AILA mentor sitting beside you at work. Your real-world examples, suggestions, and strategies make the morass of laws and regulations comprehensible." Practicum meets commentary/analysis. +3,000 footnote citations to statutes, regulations, court and administrative cases, policy memos, operations instructions, agency interpretative letters, and interest sites. Checklist of forms, and strategies for application/petition packages (including supporting evidence). KF4819 .I4838

Immigration Practice Manual: 32-chapter, indispensable guide for those who represent immigrants in every possible situation - from aliens of extraordinary ability in the arts or sciences to victims of domestic abuse who are facing deportation. This practical guide was designed to make the answers available to you when you counsel your client, explaining in clear language.

Steel on Immigration Law: Basic structure of the immigration law, non-immigrants, permanent resident status in general, family and employment-based immigration, refugees and asylees, grounds of inadmissibility, admission and exclusion procedures, removal grounds and procedures, citizenship and naturalization, and criminal and civil penalties for violations of immigration laws. In-depth analyses of immigration law and procedure in virtually every kind of case arising under immigration laws including:

  • Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952;
  • Immigration Act of 1990;
  • Technical Corrections Amendments Act of 1994; the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA); and
  • Immigration Marriage Fraud Amendment Act of 1986.

Comprehensive coverage of legislation and changes in the H-1B nonimmigrant temporary worker program. Westlaw

Immigration Pleading and Practice Manual: Contains expertly drafted motions, notices, and applications most often required in judicial and administrative federal immigration practice Westlaw:

Sample Filing With authors' supporting legal memorandum
Practitioner's Notes Explains legal principles and practical considerations applicable to use in particular motion
Annotated Directories Of statutes, regulations, agency memoranda, and relevant agency and judicial decisions
References To related treatises and other publications

Immigration Trial Handbook: Step-by-step, practice-oriented guidebook that discusses procedure, techniques, and strategies for representing noncitizens in removal proceedings at administrative level. Covers trial practice under the US DOJ EOIR's Immigration Court Practice Manual. Starts with overview of inadmissibility and deportability. Westlaw. Includes:

  • Initial preparation for court;
  • Representation at master calendar hearings;
  • Representation at individual hearing and BIA; and
  • Practice tips, cautions, and checklists.

Asylum Case Law Sourcebook: Summarizes important federal court asylum decisions since 1980, +1,000 decisions categorized by subject matter with outlines of most important elements of court's holding with full citation and case history, asylum seeker's country of origin, and significant topics. 1,922 pages so for maximum efficiency, take advantage of the 1) introductory guide, and 2) index (by topic, country of origin, and case name). Westlaw