Alien - Immigration History & Importance

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and regulations determined by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) govern whether or not an alien may receive payments for services as well as reimbursements for travel and living expenses. Prior to 2003, USCIS was known as the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS).  An overview of the most significant acts related to immigration is outlined below.

1790 – Naturalization Act, declared “any alien, being a free white person, may be admitted to become a citizen of the United States"

1875 – Supreme Court declared regulation of US immigration a responsibility of the US government

1891 - Federal Government established the Bureau of Immigration under the Treasury Department and assumed the task of inspecting, admitting, rejecting, and processing all immigrants seeking admission to the United States

1933 – Congress merged two bureaus into one called Immigration & Naturalization Services (INS)

1952 - In 1952, the Immigration and Nationality Act also know as the McCarran-Walter Act was passed and became the basic foundation of immigration rules and regulations for the United States. It has been amended over the years. The most significant revisions were:

  • Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986
  • Immigration Act of 1990
  • Immigration and Naturalization Amendments of 1991

1986 - The Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986 made it illegal for an employer to knowingly recruit or hire an individual (after November 6, 1986) who could not document their legal authorization to work in the United States. In addition, the Act:

  • Required that employers verify documents for newly hired individuals and keep a record of verification on form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification.
  • Specified that employers who fail to obtain and file the proper documentation will be subject to a civil penalty starting at $100 per violation.
  • Allowed aliens who have been residing in the U.S. illegally since January 1, 1982 to apply for amnesty.

1990 - The Immigration Act of 1990, and Immigration and Naturalization Amendments of 1991 placed further restrictions on employers. In particular, the Immigration Act of 1990 caused reorganization of permanent employment requirements and added the prevailing wage restriction for H-1 visa holders.

2001 – USA Patriot Act

2002 – The Homeland Security Act transitioned services provided by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) into the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

2005 - The Real ID Act of 2005 created restrictions on political asylum, severely curtailed habeas corpus relief for immigrants, increased immigration enforcement mechanisms, altered judicial review, and imposed federal restrictions on the issuance of state driver's licenses to immigrants and others.

As revisions of immigration rules and penalties for violations thereof continue to grow, it is extremely important to determine the immigration status of aliens before departments remit any payment.

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