Immigration laws are laws established to provide guidelines for immigration and naturalization processes. They include everything from laws pertaining to tourist visas to laws establishing the legal requirements for becoming a naturalized citizen. Typically, an immigration agency is established by the government to provide services to people interested in immigration and enforce the laws. Immigration law is commonly a very complex legal topic and in many nations, attorneys who specialize in this field are available to assist people with the immigration process.
By international agreement, all nations are permitted to set their own laws in regards to immigration policy and to enforce them as needed. This includes laws pertaining to people filing for refugee or asylum status. While nations are expected to provide shelter when it is requested, people filing for protected status must still follow the immigration laws or risk having their applications denied.
Immigration laws address the various types of visas available to people visiting a nation, including visas for tourists, temporary workers, students, and people seeking citizenship. They set the standards people must meet to obtain visas, codify the application process, and determine the length of time people are allowed to stay on a visa. For people interested in naturalization, a much lengthier process, immigration laws create a framework people must follow, including everything from medical exams to standards of conduct while in the process of applying for naturalization.
Nations also pass immigration laws to set standards for deportation. People can be deported for violating the terms of a visa by overstaying or engaging in activities not permitted by the visa, such as working full time while on a student visa. Deportation is also commonly prescribed in the event that people are convicted of certain crimes, as people in a country on a visa are considered guests and they are expected to comply with behavioral standards. For refugees and people in need of asylum, immigration laws can establish guidelines for everything from obtaining special work visas to transitioning to permanent citizenship.
Immigration is a hotly contested topic in a number of nations around the world, particularly those struggling with high numbers of undocumented immigrants, individuals who cross borders without complying with immigration law. Some nations have enacted very tough immigration policies and back them up with increasing enforcement measures, while others have attempted to use foreign policy as a means for combating immigration problems. For example, limiting numbers of refugees crossing borders illegally may be accomplished by addressing the conditions in their home nations that are causing them to flee.