United States Immigration Policies

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The United States has long been one of the countries that everyone wants to visit at some stage in their lives; as a result, many people have been looking for ways to enter the country known as the land of opportunities. This mandates the United States to draft laws that would restrict the number of refugees, methods of granting temporary and permanent documents, and fines for subjects that do not follow set guidelines. In this article, I will address the history of US immigration policy and the improvements made to previous immigration policies in an effort to deal with recent immigration problems. The Evolutions of USA Immigration policies

Immigration has been a subject of USA policy makers since the nation’s founding in 1790 when the Congress found a way in which citizens from another country could change their citizenship to become a USA citizen. The first federal law on immigration was legislated in 1875. Due to the number of the rise in immigrants, the USA created an immigration service body to oversee all legal processes by immigrants who wanted to get to the United States and the federal government assumed this responsibility in 1891 (Haas, Natter & Vezzoli, 2016).

US immigration sanctions used before the First World War were somehow loose until immigrants started to pour in just after the war. In 1921 the USA had to formulate quotas to limit their numbers and started offering limited visas in their embassies abroad. In 1965 the government dropped the quota system and came up with the categorical preference, a system that favored relatives of USA citizens but still limited the number of immigrants from particular countries (Haas, Natter & vezzoli, 2016).

In 1976 the preference system was amended in that applicants from the Western Hemisphere were given an annual bar of 299,000 which was later in 1990 increased to an annual bar of 675,000 per year. In 2002 the department of homeland security was formed and it was made responsible for almost all immigration services and roles which were earlier carried by the Immigration and naturalization service’s body. The Homeland Security was now responsible to carry boarder inspections, enforcement and other immigration services. That shows how the US immigration policies have evolved over time to date (Haas, Natter & vezzoli, 2016).

Categories of Lawful Admission to the United States

The current United States policies offer one of two ways in which people can enter the United States lawfully; this includes permanent admission where a person is granted permanent residence in the United States and are offered a green card , they are allowed to work and even apply for US citizenship. Temporary residency refers to foreign citizens who are admitted into the USA for a period, i.e., tourism, business, or study purposes. Under US laws the foreigners admitted under such admission policy are referred to as nonimmigrants (Terrazas, 2009).

Permanent Admission

This type of admission is influenced by some factors that are taken into consideration before being granted. This admission has key goals which include family reunification where immediate relatives of current US citizens are granted this admission in order to unite them, admit qualified professionals in areas where there is a strong demand for their expertise and labor, and people who are willing to invest over 1 million dollars in the United States are also granted permanent admission. People with exclusive art abilities and athletic abilities, i.e., runners are also granted permanent admission (Kerr & Lincoln, 2015).

Temporary Admission

Temporary admissions are given to those seeking to stay in the USA for a specific period of time then go back to their country. Under the waiver program, citizens of 27 participating countries were allowed admission into the United States without a visa for not more than 90 days; they only required a valid passport and a clean criminal record (Hoefer, Rytina & Baker, 2011).

Enforcement of Immigration Laws

Circumstances under which a foreigner may be denied admission into the United States or removed from the country include: criminal records history where one may be identified as a security threat in regard to terrorism and health concerns, i.e,. TB or Yellow Fever, lack of proper labor certifications or qualifications when one seeks work in the United States, lack of proper documentation if one as previously been ejected from the United States for whatever reason, falsely claiming US citizenship in order to be hired which leads to deportation, a crime related to domestic violence, stalking or child abuse, illegal entry or any violation of immigration laws set (Hollifield, Martin & Orrenius, 2014).

Unauthorized Aliens

Unauthorized aliens include all those who enter into the United States borders without proper or forged documentation and clearance. In 2000 the census bureau estimated that they were about 7 million illegal immigrants residing in the United States and in 2004 the number was reported to have risen to 10 million immigrants however it was later reported that the count included Canadians and Mexicans with border staying cards, and foreigners who were yet to renew their visitors so the number may not be that large in reality. This led to further restrictions on foreign countries entering the United States. Further restrictions are enacted via the US embassies (Hoefer, Rytina & Baker, 2011).

Enforcement Procedures

The United States faces a major challenge of illegal immigrants as many of them try to make their way in the country especially through the Mexican border. The United States has to come up with strict measures to scare away aliens who might think of sneaking into USA soil (Hoefer, Rytina & Baker, 2011).

Foreigners found in the USA without legal documentations are apprehended and may be formally removed from the country or offered voluntary departure. Formal removal includes taking the matter to court where one may be imprisoned or permanently removed from the United States and denied future visits (Hoefer, Rytina & Baker, 2011).

Formal removal may also be the beneficiary in case where one's dependents are all residing in the United States; the court may allow a foreigner to remain in the United States after checking through his past criminal record and conduct. Voluntary departure is applied to immigrants who have no criminal records but are found with no legal foreighn documents, when found they are obligated testify and accept that they were in the country illegally. They are sent off the country but are not barred from trying legal admission onwards (Hoefer, Rytina & Baker, 2011).

Becoming a U.S. Citizen

The process by which a foreigner is granted United States Citizenship is called naturalization. Any permanent resident who has been in the United States for a period with no criminal record whatsoever can apply for naturalization. Aliens who apply for it must have resided in the USA for a minimum of three years, have a good understanding of its history and government, and willingness to support and defend the United States and its Constitution (Bray, 2016).

The aliens who might have joined the army or gotten married to a United States citizen may receive some waivers on the time that they might be present in the USA or the time they have been residing there before applying for naturalization (Bray, 2016).

Trips exceeding six months break the continuity of stay in the United States except for members of the army who were away from the country on active duty. Applicants are required to meet the required time of stay before applying for naturalization. When applying for naturalization, people are advised to apply for naturalization in the states that they reside at the moment (Bray, 2016).

In conclusion, immigration policies are necessary for every country so as to control the number of foreigners getting into their countries hence the end population. Too much population may cause strain on a countries resources.

Immigration helps in monitoring diseases because immigration rules require people to take vaccines of communicable diseases i.e. TB before entering a foreign country legally, this helps safeguard the natives of a country from such diseases. If immigration rules were not enacted it would be a disaster for a country like America where everyone wants to come.

Advantages of immigration policies are evident, and each country should enact and abide by their immigration rules and at the same time learn to respect policies adopted by member countries. This will also help promote peace and relation among countries.


Bray, I. (2016). Becoming a US Citizen: A Guide to the Law, Exam & Interview. Nolo

Hanson, G. H. (2010). The economics and policy of illegal immigration in the United States. Washington, DC: Migration Policy Institute.

Hoefer, M., Rytina, N., & Baker, B. C. (2011). Estimates of the unauthorized immigrant population residing in the United States: January 2011. Population Estimates, Office of Immigration Statistics, Department of Homeland Security, 4.

Hollifield, J., Martin, P., & Orrenius, P. (2014). Controlling immigration: A global perspective. Stanford University Press.

Kerr, S. P., Kerr, W. R., & Lincoln, W. F. (2015). Skilled immigration and the employment structures of US firms. Journal of Labor Economics, 33(S1), S147-S186

Terrazas, A. (2009). Older immigrants in the United States. Migration Information Source.

Haas, H., Natter, K., & Vezzoli, S. (2016). Growing restrictiveness or changing selection? The nature and evolution of migration policies. International Migration Review.

January 18, 2023

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