Find the right lawyer now

Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)

Find a Local Immigration Lawyer near You

What is the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)?

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) is the main body of law governing U.S. immigration law.  It was created in 1952 and amended several times afterward (most notably in 1962).  Prior to the passage of the INA, U.S. immigration law was scattered throughout different statutes and not organized into one Act.  Thus, the INA served to centralize and organize U.S. immigration law

Aside from organizing existing immigration laws, the INA also established several major changes in the area of immigration.  For example, the idea of preference-based categories for visas was first introduced through the Immigration and Nationality Act.  Also, the INA made passports a requirement for travel at all times, not just during times of war.

The Immigration and Nationality Act is also called the McCarran-Walter Act.  Immigration laws are also contained in the U.S. Code; however when citing immigration laws, most persons and government bodies choose to cite the INA rather than the Code.

What Does the Immigration and Nationality Act Cover?

The INA covers nearly every conceivable issue related to or involving the immigration of aliens to the U.S.  Some of the more commonly cited Sections of the Immigration and Nationality Act include:

  • §203 Preference System (skilled immigrants, relatives of U.S. citizens, quotas, etc.)
  • §208 Asylum
  • §212 Admissibility
  • §222 Visa Applications
  • §234 Ports of Entry
  • §241 Detention and Removal
  • §245 Adjustment of Status
  • §274C Penalties for Document Fraud
  • §281Nonimmigrant Visa Fees
  • §311 Eligibility for Naturalization
  • §412 Refugee Assistance

Of course, this is not a comprehensive list- the INA covers many, many other issues related to immigration and citizenship. 

What if I Have a Question or Issue Involving Immigration Laws?

If you have any questions or legal issues regarding immigration laws, the Immigration and Nationality Act will likely contain an answer for your inquiry.  At the very least, the INA will provide you with basic information in every category of U.S. immigration law.

On the other hand the INA can be somewhat complicated to search through.  Furthermore, many aliens and immigrants may encounter difficulties in the complex language that is used in the INA.  Thus, it may be necessary to contact an immigration lawyer for assistance in understanding how the Immigration and Nationality Act works. 

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help With the Immigration and Nationality Act?

Anytime an immigrant or alien encounters an immigration law issue, it usually involves one or more of the sections in Immigration and Nationality Act.  If you or a loved one of yours has any immigration issues, it’s in your best interests to hire an immigration lawyer for advice.  A qualified attorney in your area can help explain your options and rights under the INA and other immigration laws.  They can also represent you in immigration court if you’ve been requested to appear for a hearing.

Photo of page author Ken LaMance

, LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 05-07-2012 02:18 PM PDT

Law Library Disclaimer
  • No fee to present your case
  • Choose from lawyers in your area
  • A 100% confidential service
What is LegalMatch?

We've helped more than 4 million clients find the right lawyer – for free. Present your case online in minutes. LegalMatch matches you to pre-screened lawyers in your city or county based on the specifics of your case. Within 24 hours experienced local lawyers review it and evaluate if you have a solid case. If so, attorneys respond with an offer to represent you that includes a full attorney profile with details on their fee structure, background, and ratings by other LegalMatch users so you can decide if they're the right lawyer for you.