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Georgetown Law Library

Immigration Law (U.S.) Research Guide

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

Current Federal Statutes

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) (PL 82-414) provides the foundation for U.S. immigration law. It was passed in 1952 and has been amended many times since.   The INA is codified in Title 8 of the United States Code.  Citations to federal immigration statues may take the form of direct citations to the U.S. Code (e.g. 8 U.S.C. Section 1158) or as citations to the INA (e.g. INA Section 208). 

Other U.S. Code sections relevant to immigration law may be found in various other areas of the code, such as in Title 18 (Crimes and Criminal Procedure; Chapter 69 - Nationality & Citizenship; Chapter 75 - Passports & Visas), Title 6 (Domestic Security), Title 22 (Foreign Relations), and Title 29 (Labor).

The U.S. Code (as well as the annotated versions, the USCA and the USCS) can be found in print in the Law Library as well as in various electronic and online sources.  For more on finding the U.S. Code, refer to our other research guides:


The following resources may also be useful when getting started with research on federal immigration statutes:

Federal Legislative Histories

Compiled legislative histories usually include bills, Congressional Record debates, reports and hearings. For detailed information on the federal legislative process and on finding legislative history information, consult our Legislative History Research Guide. Good starting places for legislative history research include:

Proposed Federal Legislation

This guide makes no attempt to detail proposed immigration bills; rather, a search for "immigration" in Congress.gov with "Current Congress" selected will retrieve these bills and provide their status. Additional tools you can use to monitor proposed legislation include:

You can also refer to the sources in News & Current Awareness (this guide) to monitor legislative developments in immigration law.

Other sources for current federal bills and legislative news & analysis are available on our Legislative History Research Guide.

Congressional Research Service (CRS) Reports

Congressional Research Service (CRS), the research arm of the Library of Congress, provides authoritative, objective, and nonpartisan research and analysis to committees and members of the House of Representatives and the Senate, regardless of party and affiliation. CRS produces new research as issues develop or are anticipated, and their reports are designed specifically to meet the needs of Congress. CRS research, while on a variety of topics, falls under five divisions: American Law; Domestic Social Policy; Foreign Affairs, Defense and Trade; Government and Finance; and Resources, Science, and Industry.