Immigration law

Immigration law refers to national government policies controlling the immigration and deportation of people, and other 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 foreigners may become citizens.

Immigration law in the USA

During the colonial period, independent colonies created their own immigration laws.[2] The first law governing the naturalization of foreigners was the Naturalization Act of 1790. However the later 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 the numbers of persons who had immigrated in previous years. The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 led to the creation of the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

The Department of Homeland Security, which replaced the Immigration and Naturalization Service, enforces immigration laws.[3] The United States allows more than 1 million undocumented immigrants to become Legal Permanent Residents every year.[4] The United States also issues more Visas than any other country in the world.

Visas in the United States can be broadly separated into two categories: immigrant visas, and non-immigrant visas. The former are subject to "per country-caps", whereas the latter is not. Most non-immigrant visas are for work purposes, and usually require an offer of employment from a US employer. Such immigration may involve restrictions such as a labor certification to ensure that no American workers are able to fill the role of the job.[5] Other categories include student, family and tourist visas.[6] 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.[7]

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 or territory

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

Country or Area Separate article on Country's Immigration Law Employer Sponsored Work Visa Independent Work Visa Businessperson, Self-employed or Entrepreneur Investor Ph.D. or Scientist Spouse 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: minimum investment of $500,000 PhDs are generally allowed to apply for an employer-independent EB2 visa Available After 5 years of permanent residence. 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 coming from outside the country was introduced by new government which makes it more difficult to find an employer willing to sponsor the visa if applying from outside the UK. (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 sponsorship licence. ILR is provided after 5 years in marriage or partnership and living in the country. British citizenship can be obtained as a right for anybody who was born in the UK before 1983. After 1983, 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".[8] All other classes of British Nationality do not confer right of abode in the UK to the holder. Tier4 Full-time students at university education are allowed to work up to 20 hours a week. Others are allowed to work up to 10 hours per week. After 10 years of continuous presence in the country on residential visas ILR is provided. There is a cap on the duration of staying in the country on a student visa. After 20 years of continuous illegal but proven presence in the country ILR is provided. A foreigner may apply for naturalisation after having had indefinite leave to remain for one year in addition to 5 years of residency, or (treaty nationals) may apply after having been resident in the United Kingdom for 5 years. Treaty nationals, may enter the UK to work, provide services or self-employment or study or reside there as self-sufficient migrant.

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[9] Available but Canada reduced the number of jobs in demands. E.g. software engineers are now unable to use this route.[10] Federal skilled worker
 Australia Australian nationality law Available[11] Skilled Independent visa (Subclass 189)and Skilled Nominated visa (subclass 190)
 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.[13] 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.[16] Spousal visa. Proof of cohabitation and shared finances.


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.


 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
 South Korea South Korean nationality law If you have lived more than 5 years under a D-7, D-8, D-9, E-1, E-2, E-3, E-4, E-5, E-7 or F-2 visa.[20] If you have internationally recognized extraordinary ability in science, business, culture, sports or education. If you are over 60 and receive income via pension from overseas.[21] If you invest $2 million. If you invested only $500,000, you need to stay more than 3 years on a D-8 visa. If you invest $500,000 in real estate of Jeju, Incheon Free Economic Zone, Busan's Haeundae, Pyeongchang or Yeosu, you are given a F-2 residence visa and 5 years later, F-5 permanent residence.[22] If you have a Ph.D. in a high-tech field and are employed by a Korean firm, earning 4 times the average GNI in Korea. If you only have a bachelor's in a high-tech field or a recognized technical certificate issued in Korea, you need to have stayed for at least 3 years and earn 4 times the average GNI in Korea.[23] If you have stayed in Korea for more than 2 years under a F-2 visa and are the spouse of a Korean or foreigner with a F-5 permanent residence visa. If you were born to parents who are stateless or were found abandoned within the territory of South Korea as a child, you will automatically get Korean citizenship. If you meet the requirements for naturalization. See South Korean nationality law. If you previously had Korean nationality or either of your parents or grandparents had Korean nationality in the past, you are immediately eligible for a F-4 visa, a practically permanent residence visa that is renewable every 2 years.[24] If the Korean government recognizes that you made an important contribution to the nation, you are eligible for F-5 permanent residence.[25]
 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 May be available in the future, called Rot-Weiß-Rot-Card
 Cyprus It is considered to be very unlikely to get nationality through work route Not available
 Czech Republic Not available
 Denmark Available: Danish Green Card
 France Not available
 Germany 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.
 Ireland Not available Available
 Luxembourg Luxembourgian nationality law[31]
 Netherlands Dutch nationality law
 Poland [32]
 Romania Special arrangements for citizens of Moldova
 Spain Not available
 Sweden [33] [34]
 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
Country Employer Sponsored Work Visa Independent Work Visa Businessperson, Self-employed or Entrepreneur Investor Ph.D. or Scientist Spouse Asylum Seeker Studying as a migration route Illegal Migrant Citizenship Special arrangements

Comparison table of different countries' immigration law

Countries where dual citizenship is allowed (green) and prohibited (red)
Country Requirements and restrictions before settlement Requirements and restrictions after settlement Can a resident visa holder's dependant work? Possibility of one's parents to immigrate following 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 Can legitimately naturalised persons be deprived of their nationality? Must an applicant forgo other nationalities in order to naturalise? Are citizens who naturalise in foreign countries deprived of their original nationality?
 USA No No No, but foreign earnings are liable to taxation.
 United Kingdom No more than 180 days spent overseas within 5 years, no more than 90 days per trip. Settlement would be cancelled after a certain number of days spent abroad Yes A single parent can immigrate if one is the sole supporter. It has been changed retrospectively in the past and likely to change retrospectively in the future No access to public funds. Yes Dual nationals may be deprived of their nationality for engaging in terrorism. No No
 Canada No
 New Zealand
 Israel [35] Yes, unless citizenship obtained by Law of Return
 Germany Yes, unless the prior nationality held was one of the European Union, Norway, or Switzerland; or if the applicant cannot approach the authorities of their previous country for reasons of personal safety. Yes, unless the nationality acquired is one of the European Union, Switzerland, or Norway; or if the applicant obtained permission from the German government prior to submitting an application for naturalisation.
 Ukraine Yes
 Norway Norwegian nationality law Yes Yes, unless the applicant cannot approach the authorities of their previous country for reasons of personal safety, or if the authorities demand a fee considered too high. Yes
 Russia Yes No
 Azerbaijan Yes
 China Yes Yes
 Denmark Yes
 Japan Yey Yes
 India Yes

See also


  1. art 12(4)
  2. Proper, Emberson. Colonial Immigration Laws. Buffalo: William S Hein & Co., Inc., 2003. Print.
  3. "USCIS Home Page". Retrieved 2012-04-01.
  5. Labor Certification: What Are “Unduly Restrictive” Job Requirements? Jakeman Shaklee Oliver National Immigration Lawyers. Accessed June 10th, 2013.
  6. American Visa Bureau (2011-12-22). "US visas". Retrieved 2011-12-22.
  7. Architecture for Immigration Reform – University of Denver. University of Denver. Accessed June 10th, 2013.
  8. British Nationality Act 1981, s2(1)(a), subject to s14
  9. "Working temporarily in Canada". 2012-01-26. Retrieved 2012-04-01.
  10. "Immigrating to Canada". Retrieved 2012-04-01.
  11. "". Retrieved 2012-04-01.
  12. Corporate Worker Permit in South Africa
  13. Home Affairs – Scarce Skills & Work Permit Quotas
  14. South African Business Permits
  15. About Business Permits in South Africa
  16. Exceptional Skill for Scientists or PhD's in SA
  17. Spouse Visa or Spouse Permit
  18. All about South African Legal Immigration Service s
  19. Permanent Residence in South Africa
  26. FAQ New Amendments to the Rules for Capital Investment Entrant Scheme
  27. ; 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 Russian). Retrieved 2012-04-01.
  33. "Working in Sweden – Migrationsverket". 2011-12-22. Retrieved 2012-04-01.
  34. "Self-employed from countries outside the EU – Migrationsverket". 2012-02-21. Retrieved 2012-04-01.
  35. "Решение об отмене израильского гражданства и как с этим бороться". 2012-02-19. Retrieved 2012-04-01.

External links

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