Immigration law

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Immigration law refers to national government policies which control the phenomenon of immigration to their country

Immigration law, regarding foreign citizens, is related to nationality law, which governs the legal status of people, in matters such as citizenship. Immigration laws vary from country to country, as well as according to the political climate of the times, as sentiments may sway from the widely inclusive to the deeply exclusive of new immigrants.

Immigration law regarding the citizens of a country is regulated by international law. The United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights[1] mandates that all countries allow entry to its own citizens.

Certain countries may maintain rather strict laws which regulate both the right of entry and internal rights, such as the duration of stay and the right to participate in government. Most countries have laws which designate a process for naturalization, by which immigrants may become citizens.

Immigration law in the USA

The immigration laws in the United States have experienced uneven progress. During colonial times independent colonies created their immigration laws.[3] The first law governing the naturalization of foreigners was the Naturalization Act of 1790. However many years later the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed to stop the immigration of Chinese people. The Emergency Quota Act of 1921 and the Immigration Act of 1924 put a quota on how many immigrants were permitted, based on nationality and previous influx years. The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 led to the creation of the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, the Department of State, the Department of Labor, and the Department of Health and Human Services. Of the five, the Department of Homeland Security, which replaced the Immigration and Naturalization Service, enforces immigration laws and bestows benefits on aliens.[4] Immigration and Customs Enforcement,[5] and Customs and Border Protection.[6] The United States allows more than 1 million aliens to become Legal Permanent Residents every year, which is more than any other country in the world.[7] The United States also issues more Visas than any country in the world.[8]

Visas in the United States can be broadly separated into two categories: one for people seeking to live in the US; termed Immigrant Visas, and the other for people coming for limited durations, termed Non-Immigrant Visas. The former visa has "per country-caps", and the latter does not. Most non-immigrant visas are for work purposes, and usually require an offer of employment from a US business. Such immigration may involve restriction such as a labor certification to ensure that no American workers are able to fill the role of the job, hence designed to protect wages and conditions.[9] Other categories include student, family and tourist visas.[10] Each visa category is further divided into numerous subcategories; the large number of specific categories has been recommended as a main area for comprehensive immigration reform.[11]

Control measures

To control immigration, many countries set up customs at entry points. Some common location for entry points are airports and roads near the border. At the customs department, travel documents are inspected. Some required documents are a passport, an international certificate of vaccination and an onward ticket. Sometimes travelers are also required to declare or register the amount of money they are carrying.

Comparison of immigration visa categories by country

This section is an attempt to classify and bring together information about immigration legislation on a number of countries with high immigration.

Country Separate article on Country's Immigration Law Employer Sponsored Work Visa Independent Work Visa Businessman, Self-employed or Entrepreneur Investor Ph.D. or Scientist Spouse Asylum Seeker By birth while both of parents are foreign nationals Studying as a migration route Illegal Migrant Citizenship Special arrangements
 USA United States nationality law Through H1B lottery, many applicants failed to receive a settlement after 6 years and had to leave the country. EB-1 Extraordinary Ability - for internationally recognized scientists, sportsman etc. EB-5: you need to invest $500.000 PhDs are generally allowed to apply for an employer-independent EB2 visa Available After 5 years of permanent residence known as Green Card Green Card Lottery
 United Kingdom British nationality law Tier 2 - settlement (ILR) after 5 years. A limit on number of Tier 2 migrants per year introduced by new government which makes it very difficult to find an employer willing to sponsor the visa. Tier 2 Intra-company transfers do not lead to settlement (ILR). (practically not available since April 2011) Tier 1 General - settlement (ILR) after 5 years. A limit on 1000 Tier 1 migrants per year introduced by new government. Besides that the migration legislation changes on average every six months which makes Britain not attractive for skilled migrants looking for a second nationality. Tier 1 Entrepreneur Tier 1 Investor There is no specific category here but it is easier for universities (as opposed to businesses) to acquire a Tier 2 visa ILR is provided after 2 years in marriage or partnership. UK is a popular destination for asylum seekers. Due to high number of asylum seekers, the Asylum Tribunal seems to be very unlikely to recognize even very irresistible proofs for asylum grounds. British citizenship can be obtained as a right for anybody who was born in Britain before 1994. After 1994, it can only be obtained by birth if at least one parent was settled there. It is also available as of right for people of whom one parent is a British citizen otherwise than by descent".[12] All other classes of British Nationality do not confer right of abode in the UK to the holder. Tier4 Full-time students used to be are allowed to work up to 20 hours a week, which is now changed to 10 hours. After 10 years of continuous presence in the country on residential visas ILR is provided (this is probably not valid any more). For those who graduated in the UK there is [Tier 1 Post Study Work] After 15 years of continuous illegal but proven presence in the country ILR is provided. Citizenship is provided after 1 year of Permanent residency. Permanent residency in the UK is known as settlement or "Indefinite Leave to Remain" (ILR). EU citizens (temporary except Bulgaria and Romania), as created by the Treaty of Rome at 17 have the right to work, provide services or self-employment in the UK

Some commonwealth citizens have right of abode in the UK, which for most practical purposes gives them the same rights as British Citizens in the UK.

 Canada Canadian nationality law Official information[13] Available but Canada reduced the number of jobs in demands. E.g. software engineers are now unable to use this route.[14] Federal skilled worker
 Australia Australian nationality law Available[15] Skilled Independent visa (Subclass 189)and Skilled Nominated visa (subclass 190)[16]
 New Zealand New Zealand nationality law Available
 South Africa South African nationality law Corporate worker permit.


General work permit, Quota work permit, exceptional skills work permit and Intra-company transfer work permit.[18] Business permit. Minimum foreign capital investment ZAR 2,5 Million into book value of business which may be reduced on application. Minimum of 5 South African citizens/residents to be employed.


See Business permit.


No specific category. May fall under Exceptional Skills or Quota work permit.[21] Spousal visa. Proof of cohabitation and shared finances.


Asylum seeker temporary residence pending decision whether applicant qualifies for refugee status. After 5 years recognised refugee status may request permission to apply for permanent residence.


Not applicable. Children born in South Africa to foreign nationals will obtain the same status as their parents. Study is viewed in isolation in relation to the course of study. No benefits obtained promoting continued stay. Arrest, detention, court to decide on outcome.


Citizenship may be applied for after 5 years of permanent residence.


 Gibraltar Gibraltar nationality law
 Isle of Man Similar to British Tier1 General, but does not lead to EU nationality Similar to British Tier1 Entrepreneur, but does not lead to EU nationality
 Hong Kong General Employment Policy (GEP); will receive Right of Abode (ROA) in Hong Kong, after 7 years continuous ordinary residence in Hong Kong. General Points Test (GPT) Capital Investment Entrant Scheme (CIES); you need to invest HK$10 million except on real estate;[26] will receive Right of Abode (ROA) in Hong Kong, after 7 years continuous ordinary residence in Hong Kong. passing General Points Test (GPT) within Quality Migrant Admission Scheme (QMAS)[27] Person under 21 years of age born in Hong Kong of foreigner with HK Permanent ID Card, will receive Right of Abode (ROA) in Hong Kong, but not Chinese nationality.[28] Foreigner who is a Hong Kong Permanent ID Card holder may naturalise as Chinese national with HKSAR Passport, if applicant has settle in Hong Kong or Chinese territory, has near relatives of Chinese nationals, and other legitimate reasons.[29] Mainland China issued a daily quota of 150 One Way Permits to mainland Chinese for Hong Kong settlement;[30] will receive Right of Abode (ROA) in Hong Kong, after 7 years continuous ordinary residence in Hong Kong; plus the right to apply for a HKSAR Passport.
 India Indian nationality law After 12 years of residence (of which 1 year should be continuous)
 Israel Israeli nationality law Not available Law of Return
 European Union Citizenship of the European Union Varies by member state See Blue Card (European Union)
 Austria Austrian nationality law May be available in the future, called Rot-Weiß-Rot-Card
 Belgium Belgian nationality law
 Bulgaria Bulgarian nationality law
 Cyprus Cypriot nationality law It is considered to be very unlikely to get nationality through work route Not available
 Czech Republic Czech nationality law Not available
 Denmark Danish nationality law Available: Danish Green Card
 Estonia Estonian nationality law
 Finland Finnish nationality law
 France French nationality law Not available
 Germany German nationality law Not available There are programs for Continental Refugees and Repatriates but the rules are severely tightened to prevent as little new migrants as possible to benefit from them.
 Greece Greece nationality law
 Hungary Hungarian nationality law
 Ireland Irish nationality law Not available Available
 Italy Italian nationality law
 Latvia Latvian nationality law
 Lithuania Lithuanian nationality law
 Luxembourg Luxembourgian nationality law[31]
 Malta Maltese nationality law
 Netherlands Dutch nationality law
 Norway Norwegian nationality law Min 4 years, see Norwegian nationality law#Naturalisation as a Norwegian citizen for more details. Min 7 years, see Norwegian nationality law#Naturalisation as a Norwegian citizen for more details. Citizens of other Nordic Council countries may naturalise after a two-year residence
 Poland Polish nationality law [32]
 Portugal Portuguese nationality law
 Romania Romanian nationality law Special arrangements for citizens of Moldova
 Slovakia Slovakian nationality law
 Slovenia Slovenian nationality law
 Spain Spanish nationality law Not available
 Sweden Swedish nationality law [33] [34] [35]
 Singapore Singaporean nationality law
Country Separate article on Country's Immigration Law Employer Sponsored Work Visa Independent Work Visa Businessman, Self-employed or Entrepreneur Investor Ph.D. or Scientist Spouse Asylum Seeker By birth Studying as a migration route Illegal Migrant Citizenship Special arrangements

Details on immigration law of different countries

Countries where dual citizenship is allowed (green) and prohibited (red)
Country Requirements and restrictions before settlement Requirements and restrictions after settlement Will resident visa holder dependant be allowed to work as well? Is it possible to bring old parents once got settlement? Is it guaranteed that immigration legislation would not be changed retrospectively and were there retrospective changes of immigration law previously? Access to social benefits before settlement Access to social benefits after settlement Is it possible to deprive of earned citizenship? (apart from obvious reasons like proven deception in application to citizenship or terrorism) Would the country require to surrender a previous citizenship(s) to apply for a citizenship of this country? Would the country require to surrender its citizenship if its citizen applied for a citizenship of other country?
 USA No No No, but you will be required to pay taxes to US government regardless where the income is earned
 United Kingdom No more than 180 days spent overseas within 5 years, no more than 90 days per trip. Settlement would be cancelled after certain number of days spent abroad Yes, dependants will have a right to work Theoretically you can bring a single parent if you are the only supporter. Many people had to do it through a court. It has been changed retrospectively in the past and likely to change retrospectively in the future No access to public funds. Yes Yes, for potentially unlimited number of reasons British nationality law#Deprivation of British nationality No British nationality law#Dual nationality and dual citizenship No British nationality law#Dual nationality and dual citizenship
 Canada No
 New Zealand
 Israel [36] Yes, unless citizenship obtained by Law of Return
 Germany Yes
 Ukraine Yes
 Norway Norwegian nationality law Yes Norwegian nationality law#Loss of Norwegian citizenship Yes Norwegian nationality law#Dual citizenship Yes Norwegian nationality law#Dual citizenship
 Russia Yes No
 Azerbaijan Yes
 China Yes
 Denmark Yes
 Japan Yes
 India Yes

Immigration regulation is the control of the people, and their numbers, who may enter a nation's sovereign territory. It applies both to persons seeking to live and work in a particular nation (or part of it) and tourists, persons on layover due to travel issues, and those wishing to study or otherwise make use of a country's facilities.

Immigration control of one form or another is imposed by most countries. It is an inherent right of a sovereign state.

See also


  1. art 12(4)
  2. "Diversity Lottery. USCIS - Diversity Lottery. 01 Oct 2008. US Citizen and Immigration Services. 6 May 2009".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Proper, Emberson. Colonial Immigration Laws. Buffalo: William S Hein & Co., Inc., 2003. Print.
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  6. "". Retrieved 2012-04-01.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Schaefer, Kimberley. "DC Immigration Visa Bulletin". Retrieved 6 August 2012. External link in |work= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Labor Certification: What Are “Unduly Restrictive” Job Requirements? Jakeman Shaklee Oliver National Immigration Lawyers. Accessed June 10th, 2013.
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  11. Architecture for Immigration Reform - University of Denver. University of Denver. Accessed June 10th, 2013.
  12. British Nationality Act 1981, s2(1)(a), subject to s14
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  17. Corporate Worker Permit in South Africa
  18. Home Affairs - Scarce Skills & Work Permit Quotas
  19. South African Business Permits
  20. About Business Permits in South Africa
  21. Exceptional Skill for Scientists or PhD's in SA
  22. Spouse Visa or Spouse Permit
  23. Asylum and Refugee in South Africa information
  24. All about South African Legal Immigration Service s
  25. Permanent Residence in South Africa
  26. FAQ New Amendments to the Rules for Capital Investment Entrant Scheme
  27. [1]; will receive Right of Abode (ROA) in Hong Kong, after 7 years continuous ordinary residence in Hong Kong.
  28. Verification of Eligibility for a Permanent Identity Card
  29. Application for Naturalisation as a Chinese National
  30. LCQ17: One-way Permit
  31. mae.lux
  32. "Репатриация в Польшу. Новый закон о репатриации, права репатрианта в Польше - официальная информация" (in русский). Retrieved 2012-04-01.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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External links