To provide comprehensive and beneficial services to immigrant and refugee families, child welfare professionals need to understand relevant laws and policies and how they affect the families with whom they work. In this section, find resources on recent Federal legislation and policies as well as State and local examples of immigration laws, including Special Immigrant Juvenile status.
Federal laws and policies
Child Born Outside the United States and Residing Permanently in the United States; Requirements for Automatic Acquisition of Citizenship
Code of Federal Regulations, Title 8, Part 320 (2022)
Documents the requirements for obtaining citizenship for a foreign national child brought to the United States to reside with or be adopted by parents who are U.S. citizens.
Child Born Outside the United States; Requirements for Application for Certificate of Citizenship
Code of Federal Regulations, Title 8, Part 322 (2022)
Describes the process for a U.S. citizen parent to obtain a certificate of citizenship for his or her foreign national child, including an adopted child.
Fact Sheet for Child Welfare and Guardianship Stakeholders: ICE Policies and Standards Related to Detained Parents and Legal Guardians (PDF - 397 KB)
U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) (2022)
Provides guidance on in-person appearances in family court or child welfare proceedings, including information on documentation needed for court proceedings, phone and video conferencing, and parent-child visitation.
Federal Policy Resources
Center on Immigration and Child Welfare
Highlights Federal laws and policies that affect immigrant and refugee children and families as well as relief options for these families.
ICE Detained Parents Directive
U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
Describes a directive that ensures when a parent or guardian is arrested or detained for a civil immigration proceeding, they can maintain visitation with their child and take part in related court or child welfare proceedings. The page also offers links to other tools, including resources to help locate or contact a detained parent.
Public Benefits & Immigrant Families Resource List
Center on Immigration and Child Welfare (2019)
Presents a list of resources about the public charge rule, proposed changes to the policy, and how it effects immigrants in the United States.
Quick Guide to Federal Child Welfare & Immigration Law (PDF - 263 KB)
American Bar Association, Center on Children and the Law (2017)
Offers an overview of Federal child welfare law relating to immigration issues and describes legal relief for immigrant or refugee families.
Special Immigrant Juvenile Classification
Code of Federal Regulations, Title 8, § 204.11 (2022)
Provides guidance on the process for establishing an immigrant child's eligibility for an immigrant visa when the child has been placed in foster care and is declared dependent by a juvenile court.
State and local laws and policies
Immigrant Families and Child Welfare Systems: Emerging Needs and Promising Policies
Greenberg, Capps, Kalweit, Grishkin, & Flagg (2019)
Migration Policy Institute
Examines specialized policy approaches designed to effectively engage and work with immigrant families from 14 States, 6 counties, and New York City.
State Immigration Policy Resource
Gelatt, Bernstein, & Koball (2022)
Offers a tool that compiles State-level immigration policies and shows how State laws have changed from 2000 to 2020.
State Laws Related to Immigration and Immigrants
National Conference of State Legislatures (2021)
Shares reports that identify and summarize State laws and resolutions that address immigrants, migrant workers, and seasonal workers.
State Policy Resources
Center on Immigration and Child Welfare
Highlights State policies relating to immigration and child welfare to showcase promising models or strategies that may be useful to other State and local jurisdictions.