Georgetown Law
Georgetown Law Library

Immigration Law (U.S.) Research Guide

This resource provides information on locating sources of U.S. immigration law.

Secondary Sources


When you begin a research project, it is often helpful to have an overview of the topic, to familiarize yourself with the issues, and to learn what words are commonly used to describe them. This will aid greatly when searching for more specific information later. The following sources are good for background and overview. Other titles can be found by searching on GULLiver under the following subject headings:

Aliens - United States
Citizenship - United States
Emigration and Immigration
Emigration and Immigration Law - United States
United States - Emigration and Immigration


For recent articles, online sources are the most effective. You can use Lexis or Westlaw, for the full text of many (but NOT all) law journals, or you can use online indexes from the Library's homepage to get citations for articles in just about all legal journals. For a complete guide on how to find journal articles, consult "Articles for Legal and Non-Legal Research" research guide on the Law Library web site.

Lexis and Westlaw

Both Lexis and Westlaw include selected immigration law journals in full text. Generally they do not have articles before 1985, but coverage varies by journal. The advantages of searching on Lexis and Westlaw is that you can access Lexis or Westlaw from anywhere and have the full text of the articles right there. The main disadvantage is lack of coverage: you will not find articles more than 20 years old, and you won't be searching in all journals, just selected ones.

Law Journal Indexes


See also "Using Indexes to Find Articles by Topic" within Articles for Legal and Non-Legal Research Guide.

How to Search: You can search by keywords - just enter them without connectors. You can also search for a specific author if you want, and if you know the title of an article you can search that way, too.

Advantages and Disadvantages: The main advantage is coverage: you are searching all journals, back to 1908. The drawback is that you don't have the full text, just citations.

How to Access the Articles

If you are using an index that includes only citations, you will need to get the full text of your articles. Check the list of major journals below. This indicates what the Library has for each journal and where to find it. If your journal is not on the list below, search GULLiver, under the journal title to see if we have it. We have almost all scholarly legal journals.

The library also subscribes to many mega-databases which include full-text journal articles, some even in pdf format. You may use the E-Journal Finder to find electronic journals available either in various mega-databases or directly through different publishers. You can type the title of the journal (not the article) you wish to retrieve, click the resulting search results to connect to the electronic version of that journal and open the right issue to retrieve your article.

If you need an article from a journal that the Library does not have, contact the Reference Desk. We can help you find a library that does have it. You can also request the article on Interlibrary Loan.

Major Immigration Law Journals


  • PolicyFile: Public Policy Research and Analysis
    Abstracts of data from public policy think tanks, university research programs and publishers, with coverage from 1990. Links to organizational home pages and to full text documents, where available.
  • Academic Search Premier
    Provides full text for 3,467 publications covering academic areas of study including social sciences, humanities, education, and linguistics, arts & literature, medical sciences, and ethnic studies. A total of 4,425 titles are abstracted and indexed, of which 2,591 are peer-reviewed.