Immigration: A Never-ending Process

The Chinese

If not to count the ancestors of the Amerindians who presumably crossed the Bering Strait in prehistoric times, the Chinese were the first Asians immigrants to enter the United States.The first documentation of the Chinese in the U.S. begins in the 18th century, however, there have been claims stating that they were in the area now known as America at an even earlier date.Large-scale immigration began in the mid 1800's due to the California Gold Rush. Despite the flood of Chinese immigrants during that time, their population began to fall drastically.Because of laws such as the Chinese Exclusion Act, the highly imbalanced male to female ratio, and the thousands of immigrants returning back to China,the Chinese population in the U.S. fell to a lowly 62,000 people in 1920. Nonetheless, the Chinese make up the largest Asian population in the United States today.

In actuality, the first Chinese immigrants were well and widely received by the Americans. However, the first Chinese immigrants were wealthy, successful merchants, along with skilled artisans, fishermen, and hotel and restaurant owners. For the first few years they were greatly receipted by the public, government officials, and especially by employers, for they were renowned for their hard work and dependability.

However, after a much larger group of coolies, unskilled laborers usually working for very little pay, migrated to the U.S. in the mid 1800's, American attitudes became negative and hostile. The way of living among the Chinese was quite dissimilar from the patterns displayed among the masses of rowdy American gold-seekers surrounding them.Along with desires of wealth, many Southerns brought along hostile racial attitudes from the antebellum South.In the years that followed, those virulent temperaments were felt through laws and attitudes, and Blacks as well as Chinese suffered throughout the mid-century. Miners in the area often used violence to drive the Chinese out of various mines. While impatient gold-seekers would abandon prospective rivers, the Chinese would remain, painstakingly panning through the dust to find bits of gold.

The Chinese did not only mine for gold, but took on jobs such as cooks, peddlers, and storekeepers. In the first decade after the discovery of gold, many had taken jobs nobody else wanted or that were considered too dirty. By 1880, a fifth were engaged mining, another fifth in agriculture, a seventh in manufacturing, an added seventh were domestic servants, and a tenth were laundry workers. Approximately 30,000 Chinese worked outside of California in such trades as mining, common labor, and service trades.During the 1860's, 10,000 Chinese were said to be involved in the building of the western leg of the Central Pacific Railroad. Despite the nice pay, the work was backbreaking and highly dangerous. Over a thousand Chinese had their bones shipped back to China to be buried.

As time passed, the resentment against the Chinese increased from those who could not compete with them. Acts of violence against the Chinese continued for decades, mostly from white urban and agricultural workers. In 1862 alone, eighty-eight Chinese were reported murdered.Though large landowners that hired Chinese, railroads and other large white-owned businesses, and Chinese workers themselves pushed against a growing anti-Chinese legislation,the forces opposing the Chinese prevailed, issuing laws that excluded or harassed them from industry after industry.Mob violence steadily increased against the Chinese until even employers were at risk. Eventually, laws such the Naturalization Act of 1870 and the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 restricted immigration of Chinese immigrants into the U.S.

As decades passed, the situation between the Chinese and the Americas improved. Such events as the Chinatowns turning from crime and drug ridden places to quiet, colorful tourist attractions, well-behaved and school conscientious Chinese children being welcomed by public school teachers, and China becoming allies with the U.S. during World War II, all pavedthe way for the repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act. As immigration from China resumed, mostly female immigrants came, many, wives of Chinese men in the U.S. Many couples were reunited after decades apart.

Chinese immigrants in classs being prepared for naturalization, San Francisco, late nineteenth century. (Photoworld)
Chinese immigrants in classs being prepared for naturalization, San Francisco, late nineteenth century. (Photoworld)

The Irish

The Irish were unfortunately divided during much of the nineteenth century and was therefore helpless in the face of its grave problems. The Act of Union of 1803 incorporated the island into British polity, but was useless in easing the difficult situation of the people.. With an overly large population as the result of the Napoleanic Wars, the Irish soon became impoverished. And with the religious prejudice of Protestant Masters to the Catholic Irish, plus political subordination, many had no alternative by to emigrate to the United States for relief. Between 1820 and 1860, the Irish were never less than a third of all immigrants. The British Passenger Acts attempted to deflect the immigration from the British Isles to Canada instead of the U.S., making the fare a cheap 15 shilling compared to the 4 or 5 pound fare to New Yo
Chinese coolies employed by the Central Pacific in the Sierra Nevada had to fight winter snow drifts to get the railroad built. (Sketch by Joseph Becker, Association of American Railroads.)
Chinese coolies employed by the Central Pacific in the Sierra Nevada had to fight winter snow drifts to get the railroad built. (Sketch by Joseph Becker, Association of American Railroads.)

rk. Many Irish soon found it convenient to take the affordable trip to Canada, where they could buy cheap fares to the U.S., or cheaper yet, they could walk across the border. By 1840, the Irish constituted nearly half of all entering immigrants, and New England found it self heavily foreign born. By 1950, the Irish consisted of one fifth of all foreign born in the originally homogenous region.

In 1845, the great
New England bonnet makers. (Harper's Monthly, October, 1864, New York Public Library
New England bonnet makers. (Harper's Monthly, October, 1864, New York Public Library
potato rot touched off a mass migration. The disaster eliminated the sole subsistence of millions of peasants, thrusting them over the edge of starvation. For five weary years, the crops remained undependable, and famine swept through the land. Untold thousands perished, and the survivors, destitute of hope, wished only to get away (Handlin, 1972).

The only mode of escape was emigration. Starving families that could not pay landlords faced no alternative but to leave the country in hopes of a better future. And thus the steadily scaling number of Irish who entered the U.S. between 1820 and 1830 skyrocketed in the 1840s, nearly 2 million came in that decade. The flow persisted increasingly for another five years, as the first immigrants began to earn the means of sending for relatives and friends. The decade after 1855 showed a subside in the movement, but smaller numbers continued to arrive after the Civil War. Altogether, almost 3.5 million Irishmen entered the U.S. between 1820 and 1880.

Emigrating to the U.S. wasn't the magical solution for most of the immigrants. Peasants arrived without resources, or capital to start farms or businesses. Few of them ever accumulated the resources to make any meaningful choice about their way of life. Fortunately for them, the expansion of the American economy created heavy demands for muscle grunt. The great canals, which were the first links in the national transportation system were still being dug in the 1820s and 1830s, and in the time between 1830 and 1880, thousands of miles of rail were being laid. With no bulldozers existing at the time, the pick and the shovel were the only earth-moving equipment at the time. And the Irish laborers were the mainstay of the construction gangs that did this grueling work. In towns along the sites of work, groups of Irish formed their small communities to live in. By the middle of the nineteenth century, as American cities were undergoing rapid growth and beginning to develop an infrastructure and creating the governmental machinery and personnel necessary to run it, the Irish and their children got their first foothold- on the ground floor. Irish policemen and firemen are not just stereotypes: Irish all but monopolized those jobs when they were being created in the post-Civil War years, and even today Irish names are clearly over-represented in those occupations (Daniels, 1990). Irish workmen not only began laying the horsecar and streetcar tracks, but were some of the first drivers and conductors. The first generations worked largely at unskilled and semiskilled occupations, but their children found themselves working at increasingly skilled trades. By 1900, when Irish American mend made up about a thirteenth of the male labor force, they were almost a third of the plumbers, steamfitters, and boilermakers. Industry working Irish soon found themselves lifted up into boss and straw-boss positions as common laborers more and more arrived from southern and eastern Europe- Italians, Slavs, and Hungarians.

In years after 1860, Irish
The printing room of a large cotton mill in Lawrence, Massachusetts.  (Library of Congress)
The printing room of a large cotton mill in Lawrence, Massachusetts. (Library of Congress)
Immigration persisted. More than 2.6 million Irish came in the decades after 1860. However, larger numbers of immigrants from elsewhere masked the inflow of Irish people. Those Irish who did continue to flow into the U.S. tended to settle in the already existing Irish communities, where Catholic Churches had been built, and cultural traditions were carried out. However materialistically poor they were, the Irish were rich in cultural resources, developing institutions that helped them face hardship without despair. Cultural events such as St. Patrick's Day were regarded by most Americans as evidence of the separateness of these immigrants, but helped hold the Irish culture together. Their desire for self-expression showed that the Irish understood their group identity. Poor as they were, they drew strength from a culture that explained their situation in the world and provided spiritual resources to face if not to solve the problem. Aside from the church, the most important media of that culture were the press and the stage. All Irish newspapers had either a nationalistic or a religious base, some published as church organs, other drawing support from patriotic societies. Their newspapers interpreted news, accommodated information, and printed popular poems and stories. The stage was even more appealing because it did not demand literacy, presenting to attentive audiences dramas as real as life but not as painful. By the late 1800s, the painful initial Irish transplantation into American society had ended. Second and third generation born and educated in the U.S. replaced the immigrants, but their heritage still stemmed from the peasants' flight from Ireland and of the hardships of striking new roots in the New World.

The Jewish

The first Jewish immigrants to the United States were Sephardic Jews that were fleeing persecution by Portuguese rulers in Brazil, around 1654. The previous rulers of Brazil, the Dutch, were known for their religious tolerance, but the Portuguese were characterized by their intolerance for other religions. Two years after the first American-Jew put his foot on North American soil, the first Jewish congregation was established in the Dutch Colony of New Amsterdam, which was later re-named New York. Twenty-one years later, another congregation was established in Newport, Rhode Island.
In 1702, the
Hester Street, the heart of New York's East Side, 1900. (The National Archives)
Hester Street, the heart of New York's East Side, 1900. (The National Archives)
first Ashkenazic Jews from Germanic Europe arrived in the "New World". However, it was decades before the first Ashkenazic synagogues were established. Instead of building their own temples, the German Jews simply joined the much larger group of Sephardic Jews. At first, the Sephardic Jews looked down upon the Ashkenazics, even going as far as to disinherit sons and daughters that married into a Sephardic family.
Eventually, though, the Ashkenazic Jews began to establish themselves in the Sephardic community. Marriages between the two sects became more frequent and accepted, and Ashkenazics could be found as leaders of Sephardic congregations. Both groups remained relatively small, and around 1776, there were only about 2000 Jews in the American Colonies.
The Ashkenazic Jews were
Polish Jews in Czestochowa, 1914. (United Press International)
Polish Jews in Czestochowa, 1914. (United Press International)
persecuted by the Sephardic, but all Jews living in the American colonies experienced persecution by the Christians. Peter Stuyvesant, the governor of the colonies, showed resistance to the Jewish settlers, but the colony was owned by the Dutch West India Company. The company's board of directors included several Sephardic Jews, so Stuyvesant was over-ruled. Anti-Jewish sentiment never was strong in the United States, especially compared to that of Europe. In the US, they were merely another group of people trying to make a better life, while in Europe they were always seen as the single minority. In the US, Jews were accepted members of society, sometimes even leaders of public and private groups or organizations.

The Japanese

Japanese picture brides detained on Angel Island, 1916.  The relatively small detention station could accomidate 200 to 300 men and 30 to 50 women.  In addition to the Chinese, who made up the bulk of arrivals, the station also processed other Asians, including over 600 Japanese picture brides a year (until the practice was halted in 1921) and small numbers of Koreans and Hindus.  (California Department of Parks and Recreation)
Japanese picture brides detained on Angel Island, 1916. The relatively small detention station could accomidate 200 to 300 men and 30 to 50 women. In addition to the Chinese, who made up the bulk of arrivals, the station also processed other Asians, including over 600 Japanese picture brides a year (until the practice was halted in 1921) and small numbers of Koreans and Hindus. (California Department of Parks and Recreation)
The boom of the Hawaiian sugar industry in the 1870s and 1880s, in contrast to Japan's painful transition to a modern economy that produced large-scale unemployment, bankruptcies, and civil disorders, contributed to a much larger portion of Japanese emigrants moving to Hawaii. Thus as of 1900, the majority of half of all the Japanese immigrants in the world living in the U.S. lived in Hawaii. From 1885 through 1894, over 28,000 Japanese migrated to Hawaii, the vast majority being single men. Opposed to the first Japanese from Yokohama, these Japanese were farmers and farm laborers, immigrating as sojourners rather than settlers. Initially, around three-quarters of them returned to Japan, though as years passed, this figure declined to only one-quarter. Anticipating the legislation of American laws against contract labor to Hawaii in 1900, after the American takeover of the islands, Hawaiian plantation owners imported more than 26,000 contract laborers from Japan in 1899, in order to beat the ban- the largest number ever admitted in a single year. The contracts were then voided under American laws, however, leaving thousands of Japanese free to migrate to the U.S mainland. But Hawaii remained the principle are of concentration for Japanese in the U.S. for many years. Even up to 1910, four times as many Japanese lived in Hawaii than on the mainland. Among other reasons, race relations were better in Hawaii. The difference was significant enough for the government of Japan to cease issuing passports for Japanese to go to the U.S. mainland, while continuing to authorize passports for Hawaii. However ineffective it was at controlling the ultimate destinations of Japanese emigrants, the policy at least demonstrated that differences in the treatment of Japanese had become known back in Japan.
At a time when such people were virtually non-existent on the mainland, a small but significant group of native-born Japanese ancestry arose in the nineteenth-century Hawaii. By 1910, the native born were about one-third as numerous as the foreign-born among the Japnese in Hawaii, while remaining less than 7 percent on the mainland. By 1930, native-born Japanese Americans exceeded those born in Japan by 80 percent. Back on the mainland, the number of native-born still hadn't caught up to those bon in Japan. As years passed, the regional distribution of the Japanese shifted from two-thirds of the 85,000 Japanese in the U.S. living in Hawaii at the turn of the century, to just over half of the 220,000 Japanese living on the mainland in 1920.
The Japanese relations with the larger society were to some extent shaped by the fact that they followed in the wake of the Chinese. Both in Hawaii and on the mainland, the Chinese had started as unskilled laborers and many had worked their way up to become small businessmen- and were resented and rejected for their advancement and competition. The Japanese began in the same fashion, and were initially welcomed as substitutes for the Chinese as coolie labor. Their rising advancement and success, however, soon lumped them together with the Chinese as the "Yellow Peril" that threatened the living standard of American workers, businessmen, and American society in general. Though the reaction was more prominent in the mainland, it was still present in even Hawaii. Laws were passed in Hawaii to block the movement of Japanese into skilled occupations, and on the mainland to stop their purchase of land in California.
When they first arrived, the Japanese gained their initial foothold in agriculture by working as agricultural laborers for lower wages than whites, and then acquiring farms by paying more than whites for the land. Once established, it became clear that they were formidable competitors. On farms where laborers were paid by the amount they collected (half were), the Japanese earned substantially more through harder work and longer hours. As their reputation spread, the hourly pay of Japanese rose, and soon overtook that of the whites.

Immigration, Railroads, and the West

The history of immigration and emigration in the United States is closely linked to the history of railroads. Immigrants were not only integral to the construction of the transcontinental railroads that facilitated western expansion, but they also used the railroad to migrate west and to form new immigrant settlements in western states and territories.
Work on the first transcontinental railroad began after President Abraham Lincoln approved the Pacific Railway Act of 1862, a landmark law that authorized the federal government to financially back the construction of a transcontinental railroad. Due to the American Civil War, work was delayed for several years. By 1866, however, the great race was on between the Central Pacific Railroad, which was charged with laying track eastward from Sacramento, and the Union Pacific Railroad, which started laying track westward from Omaha, to see which railroad company could lay the most miles of railroad track before the two railroad lines joined up. Because the federal government subsidized at least $16,000 for each mile of railroad laid as well as generous land grants along the track, each company had a strong financial incentive to lay track as quickly as possible.
This massive work could never have been completed without Chinese and Irish laborers, who comprised the bulk of the workforce. Chinese laborers were brought in by the Central Pacific Railroad in large numbers. Indeed, by the height of the construction effort in 1868, over 12,000 Chinese immigrants were employed, comprising about 80 percent of the Central Pacific's workforce.

The work ethic of the Chinese impressed James Strobridge, the foreman of construction, as did their willingness to do the dangerous work of blasting areas for track in the treacherous Sierra Nevada, an effort that cost some Chinese laborers their lives. Chinese workers even helped lay a record ten miles of track in just twelve hours, shortly before the railroad was completed. The Chinese dedication to the Central Pacific was even more impressive in light of the racial discrimination they experienced. California law prevented them from obtaining full citizenship, but still mandated that they pay taxes to the state of California. In addition, the Chinese were paid only $27 a month (later rising to $30 a month), significantly less than the $35 a month that Irish laborers on the Central Pacific earned for doing the same work.
The Union Pacific was built primarily by Irish laborers from the Eastern Seaboard who were veterans of the Union and Confederate armies during the Civil War. Mormons also supplied labor, due to their desire to see the railroad pass near to Salt Lake City, and thereby to incorporate heavily Mormon Utah into the rest of the country. Although the Irish did not suffer from the same kind of racial discrimination as the Chinese did on the Central Pacific, they were still paid relatively little for hard work in dangerous territory. Irish laborers were killed by Native American war parties, who attacked laborers and construction parties for their efforts to build a railroad that Native Americans believed threatened the continued existence of their culture and violated treaties granted by the US government.
Between 1865 and 1869, the Central Pacific had laid 690 miles of track and the Union Pacific 1,087 miles of track. The meeting of the two railroads and the completion of the first transcontinental railroad at Promontory Summit, Utah, on May 10, 1869, was a major national achievement that could not have occurred without immigrant laborers.
After the first transcontinental railroad was completed, immigrants who entered the US at immigration checkpoints on the Eastern Seaboard such as Ellis Island began using the train system to migrate west. In fact, the railroad companies themselves promoted such plans, because increased population in the west meant more business for railroads. One vivid example of this phenomenon is in Kansas, where the marketing campaign of railroads led to the influx of European, Russian, Mexican, and African immigrants only a decade after murderous conflicts in "bloody Kansas" had presaged the American Civil War. Railroads, then, were the means by which the population of western states increased dramatically due to the creation of new immigrant settlements and the westward migration of native-born Americans.


Key Dates and Landmarks in United States Immigration History

The Constitution of the United States of America takes effect, succeeding the Articles of Confederation that had governed the union of states since the conclusion of the Revolutionary War (March 4, 1789).

The Naturalization Act of 1790 establishes a uniform rule of naturalization and a two-year residency requirement for aliens who are "free white persons" of "good moral character" (March 26, 1790).

Considered one of the Alien and Sedition Acts, the Naturalization Act of 1798 permits Federalist President John Adams to deport foreigners deemed to be dangerous and increases the residency requirements to 14 years to prevent immigrants, who predominantly voted for the Republican Party, from becoming citizens (June 25, 1798).

The Jefferson Administration revises the Naturalization Act of 1798 by reducing the residency requirement from 14 to five years.

Importation of slaves into the United States is officially banned, though it continues illegally long after the ban.

Congress passes an act requiring shipmasters to deliver a manifest enumerating all aliens transported for immigration. The Secretary of State is required to report annually to Congress the number of immigrants admitted.

143,439 immigrants arrive

599,125 immigrants arrive

Crop failures in Germany, social turbulence triggered by the rapid industrialization of European society, political unrest in Europe, and the Irish Potato Famine (1845–1851) lead to a new period of mass immigration to the United States.

1,713,251 immigrants arrive

The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ends the Mexican-American War and extends citizenship to the approximately 80,000 Mexicans living in Texas, California, and the American Southwest.

Gold is discovered in the American River, near Sacramento, California.

The California gold rush spurs immigration from China and extensive internal migration.

For the first time, the United States Census surveys the "nativity" of citizens (born inside or outside the US).

2,598,214 immigrants arrive

The Know-Nothings, a nativist political party seeking to increase restrictions on immigration, win significant victories in Congress, a sign of popular dissatisfaction with growing immigration from Catholic Ireland. Protestant Americans feared that growing Catholic immigration would place American society under control of the Pope.

Castle Garden is established as New York's principal point of entry.

2,314,825 immigrants arrive

Outbreak of the American Civil War (April 12, 1861).

The Homestead Act provides free plots of up to 160 acres of western land to settlers who agree to develop and live on it for at least five years, thereby spurring an influx of immigrants from overpopulated countries in Europe seeking land of their own.

The "Anti-Coolie" Act discourages Chinese immigration to California and institutes special taxes on employers who hire Chinese workers.

Riots against the draft in New York City involve many immigrants opposed to compulsory military service (July 13–16, 1863).

The Central Pacific hires Chinese laborers and the Union Pacific hires Irish laborers to construct the first transcontinental railroad, which would stretch from San Francisco to Omaha, allowing continuous travel by rail from coast to coast.

The First Transcontinental Railroad is completed when the Central Pacific and Union Pacific lines meet at Promontory Summit, Utah (May 10, 1869).

The Naturalization Act of 1870 expands citizenship to both whites and African-Americans, though Asians are still excluded.

The Fifteenth Amendment is ratified, granting voting rights to citizens, regardless of "race, color, or previous condition of servitude."

Jacob Riis, who later pioneered photojournalism and authored //How the Other Half Lives//, emigrates from Denmark to the United States.

2,812,191 immigrants arrive

5,246,613 immigrants arrive

1 million Germans arrive in the peak of German immigration

2 million Eastern European Jews immigrate to the United States

The Chinese Exclusion Act restricts all Chinese immigration to the United States for a period of ten years.

The Immigration Act of 1882 levies a tax of 50 cents on all immigrants landing at US ports and makes several categories of immigrants ineligible for citizenship, including "lunatics" and people likely to become public charges.

The Alien Contract Labor Law prohibits any company or individual from bringing foreigners into the United States under contract to perform labor. The only exceptions are those immigrants brought to perform domestic service and skilled workmen needed to help establish a new trade or industry in the US.

The Statue of Liberty is dedicated in New York Harbor.

Emma Goldman, Lithuanian-born feminist, immigrates to the United States, where over the next 30 years she will become a prominent American anarchist. During the First World War, in 1917, she is deported to Russia for conspiring to obstruct the draft.

Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr found Hull-House in Chicago.

The demographic trends in immigration to the United States shift as immigration from Southern and Eastern Europe substantially increases, while the relative proportion of immigration from Northern and Western Europe begins to decrease.

3,687,564 immigrants arrive.

Congress makes "persons suffering from a loathsome or a dangerous contagious disease," those convicted of a "misdemeanor involving moral turpitude," and polygamists ineligible for immigration. Congress also establishes the Office of the Superintendent of Immigration within the Treasury Department.

The Geary Act extends the Chinese Exclusion Act for ten more years, and adds the requirement that all Chinese residents carry permits, as well as excluding them from serving as witnesses in court and from bail in habeus corpus proceedings.

Ellis Island, the location at which more than 16 million immigrants would be processed, opens in New York City.

8,795,386 immigrants arrive

Ellis Island

Castle Garden (New-York Historical Society)
Castle Garden (New-York Historical Society)

Immigrants arriving at Ellis Island
Immigrants arriving at Ellis Island
Ellis Island Today
Ellis Island Today

Glossary of Terms

Acquired Citizenship:
Citizenship conferred at birth on children born abroad to a U.S. citizen parent(s).

Board of Immigration Appeals:
The part of the Executive Office for Immigration Review that is authorized to review most decisions of Immigration Judges and some types of decisions of Department of Homeland Security officers.

Business Nonimmigrant:
An alien coming temporarily to the United States to engage in commercial transactions which do not involve gainful employment in the United States, i.e., engaged in international commerce on behalf of a foreign firm, not employed in the U.S. labor market, and receives no salary from U.S. sources.

Certificate of Citizenship:
Identity document proving U.S. citizenship. Certificates of citizenship are issued to derivative citizens and to persons who acquired U.S. citizenship (see definitions for Acquired and Derivative Citizenship).

Deportable Alien:
An alien in and admitted to the United States subject to any grounds of removal specified in the Immigration and Nationality Act. This includes any alien illegally in the United States, regardless of whether the alien entered the country by fraud or misrepresentation or entered legally but subsequently violated the terms of his or her nonimmigrant classification or status.

The formal removal of an alien from the United States when the alien has been found removable for violating the immigration laws. Deportation is ordered by an immigration judge without any punishment being imposed or contemplated. Prior to April 1997 deportation and exclusion were separate removal procedures. The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 consolidated these procedures. After April 1, 1997, aliens in and admitted to the United States may be subject to removal based on deportability. Now called Removal, this function is managed by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Employer Sanctions:
The employer sanctions provision of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 prohibits employers from hiring, recruiting, or referring for a fee aliens known to be unauthorized to work in the United States. Violators of the law are subject to a series of civil fines for violations or criminal penalties when there is a pattern or practice of violations.

Executive Office for Immigration Review:
The part of the United States Department of Justice that is responsible for the Immigration Courts and the Board of Immigration Appeals.

Prior to the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, exclusion was the formal term for denial of an alien’s entry into the United States. The decision to exclude an alien was made by an immigration judge after an exclusion hearing. Since April 1, 1997, the process of adjudicating inadmissibility may take place in either an expedited removal process or in removal proceedings before an immigration judge.

Fiance(e)s of U.S. Citizen:
A nonimmigrant alien coming to the United States to conclude a valid marriage with a U.S. citizen within ninety days after entry.

Foregin Govenment Official:
As a nonimmigrant class of admission, an alien coming temporarily to the United States who has been accredited by a foreign government to function as an ambassador, public minister, career diplomatic or consular officer, other accredited official, or an attendant, servant or personal employee of an accredited official, and all above aliens’ spouses and unmarried minor (or dependent) children.

Foreign Information Media Reprsentative:
As a nonimmigrant class of admission, an alien coming temporarily to the United States as a bona fide representative of foreign press, radio, film, or other foreign information media and the alien’s spouse and unmarried minor (or dependent) children.

Foreign State of Chargeability:
The independent country to which an immigrant entering under the preference system is accredited. No more than 7 percent of the family-sponsored and employment-based visas may be issued to natives of any one independent country in a fiscal year. No one dependency of any independent country may receive more than 2 percent of the family-sponsored and employment-based visas issued. Since these limits are based on visa issuance rather than entries into the United States, and immigrant visas are valid for 6 months, there is not total correspondence between these two occurrences. Chargeability is usually determined by country of birth. Exceptions are made to prevent the separation of family members when the limitation for the country of birth has been met.

Geographic Area of Chargeability:
Any one of five regions--Africa, East Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, Near East and South Asia, and the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe--into which the world is divided for the initial admission of refugees to the United States. Annual consultations between the Executive Branch and the Congress determine the ceiling on the number of refugees who can be admitted to the United States from each area. Beginning in fiscal year 1987, an unallocated reserve was incorporated into the admission ceilings.

Immigration Judge:
An attorney appointed by the Attorney General to act as an administrative judge within the Executive Office for Immigration Review. They are qualified to conduct specified classes of proceedings, including removal proceedings.

Immigration and Nationality Act:
The Act (INA), which, along with other immigration laws, treaties, and conventions of the United States, relates to the immigration, temporary admission, naturalization, and removal of aliens.

International Reprsentative:
As a nonimmigrant class of admission, an alien coming temporarily to the United States as a principal or other accredited representative of a foreign government (whether officially recognized or not recognized by the United States) to an international organization, an international organization officer or employee, and all above aliens’ spouses and unmarried minor (or dependent) children.

Labor Certification:
Requirement for U.S. employers seeking to employ certain persons whose immigration to the United States is based on job skills or nonimmigrant temporary workers coming to perform services for which qualified authorized workers are unavailable in the United States. Labor certification is issued by the Secretary of Labor and contains attestations by U.S. employers as to the numbers of U.S. workers available to undertake the employment sought by an applicant, and the effect of the alien’s employment on the wages and working conditions of U.S. workers similarly employed. Determination of labor availability in the United States is made at the time of a visa application and at the location where the applicant wishes to work.

A person who leaves his/her country of origin to seek residence in another country.
The conferring, by any means, of citizenship upon a person after birth.