New Immigration Laws

Written by Patricia Tunstall
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New immigration laws are abundant since the overhaul of the old Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), which is no more. All its duties have been divided among three agencies in order for each set of duties to be given the attention they deserve. Immigration benefits and services are now the bailiwick of the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS), which no longer has investigative and enforcement responsibilities.

An important new law is the registration requirement for all visitors to this country by 2005. Since this is an enormous undertaking, the program is being implemented in phases. Right now, all males 16 and older from certain countries designated by the Attorney General as possible threats to the U.S. must register. This enables the government to track these visitors and ensure that they adhere to the terms of their visa, such as leaving the country in a timely manner.

Important New Immigration Laws

Other important new immigration laws include the easing of restrictions on naturalization of military personnel. The BCIS has streamlined the naturalization process for those on active duty or who have recently been discharged. Other general requirements must still be met, including good moral character, knowledge of English, U.S. history and government, and demonstration of attachment to the United States by taking an oath of allegiance to the Constitution.

The heightened security measures and new immigration laws resulting from 9/11 have slowed the processing of visas, petitions, and applications. Better background checks and examination of documentation provided by visitors and immigrants have added to the timeframe for obtaining visa or residency papers. Individuals should take this into account and allow extra time for the completion of paperwork.

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