The following is information on the major agencies involved in immigration services in the United States. To learn more about which agency may be involved in your case, call and schedule a consultation with a DC immigration lawyer today.
An immigration lawyer is available to assist you in acquiring a visa, becoming a lawful permanent resident, or other immigration related issues that can have an impact on your life. Call today to learn more.
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
USCIS is the organization that grants applications like family petitions, employer-based petitions, work authorization, Temporary Protected Status, VAWA and U visas, and other affirmative benefits. If your case is denied in front of USCIS, you may be referred to the immigration court afterwards.
Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR)
The second major player is the immigration courts, or the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), which is within the Department of Justice. When you’re in front of an immigration court, there will basically be three parties involved; one is the immigration judge, two is the respondent, which is the immigrant, and their attorney (if they have one). The final party will be the Department of Homeland Security attorney, who is basically the prosecuting attorney who is trying to deport the individual.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
There are also other parties like ICE, which is Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the U.S. Border Patrol, which is another division of ICE. Among others, these organizations are in charge of actually monitoring the movement of undocumented individuals within the United States and at the border, and they’re the people that actually have the authority to arrest you.
The National Visa Center
There are other organizations involved as well, like the National Visa Center, which is the U.S.-based organization in charge of processing applications for people who are applying for visas from abroad. Working alongside the National Visa Center are the consular posts and embassies that are located throughout the world. These foreign consular offices fall under the Department of State umbrella, and are the ones you’ll deal with if you are applying for admission to the U.S. from abroad.
Other Government Actors
There are other departments involved as well, such as the Board of Immigration Appeals, federal circuit courts, and other appellate bodies like the Administrative Appeals Office, which evaluate appeals of immigration cases. In employment-based petitions, you’ll also involve the Department of Labor and the Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals, or BALCA, as well as the Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer, or OCAHO. So, it’s quite a complicated web.
Executive Orders and Executive Actions
Right now, the most important result of Obama’s executive action is the concept of prosecutorial discretion. It does not create any kind of new status for people, but it forces ICE and government prosecutors to prioritize the people that they want to remove from the United States.
Prosecutorial Discretion can manifest itself in many ways. One way is that ICE officers are not supposed to be targeting individuals who are just here illegally, if they have extensive ties to the U.S. and a long presence here. Instead, they are supposed to be targeting people who meet other criteria like they have a serious criminal record or a history of severe immigration violations like orders of deportation.
So, that’s one way that it’s affecting a lot of people. Another way that it can come into play is if someone is actually in removal proceedings, but does not meet the criteria for a priority for removal enforcement, then you can speak or the DHS attorney on the case to try to get them to close the proceedings before the immigration judge.