I want to refer to sections of US laws in a lawsuit filed at a US federal court.

For example, I look at the INA 1965 (Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965).

The different parts of the law are described here.

Each line seems to include two names for each part of the law: for example, "INA 101" and "8 U.S.C. 1101".

What is the difference between the two names?

Why are there two names for the same section?

Which name should be used in a lawsuit filed at a US federal court?

1 Answer 1


Those are two ways of referring to the same law. "INA 101" refers to it as a section of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 as amended; most changes to US immigration law since then have been amendments to that act. "8 US Code 1101" refers to it as a section of Title 8 of the US Code, an official compilation of US laws based on subject matter (specifically, title 8 covers aliens and nationality). Some titles of the US Code have been enacted as federal laws by Congress, but Title 8 is just an administrative compilation. Like all general federal laws, the INA has been integrated into the US Code.

The two citations are equivalent, and which one you choose is a style thing. In general, immigration specialists (like USCIS and immigration courts) tend to cite to the INA while generalists (like district and circuit courts) tend to cite to the US Code.

  • Thank you for the clear, straight-to-the-point and so un-legalese-like explanation!
    – rapt
    Jun 21, 2021 at 3:23

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