Massachusetts law about immigration

Laws, regulations, cases, and web sources on immigration law.

If you are unable to find the information you are looking for, or if you have a specific question, please contact our law librarians for assistance.

Table of Contents

Note

Due to continual and rapid changes in U.S. immigration policy, please check the websites of all relevant federal agencies for the most current information.

Best bets

Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services.
This page provides information on requesting consideration of DACA. See also the National Immigration Law Center: DACA for information on ongoing litigations regarding DACA.

Massachusetts legal help: Immigration, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute.
Provides links to information about immigrants’ rights, planning for a family emergency, DACA, healthcare, education rights and more.

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (formerly INS)
Administers the country's naturalization and immigration system. Their website includes forms, case status updates, e-filing, and information on green cards and citizenship. For current policies see the USCIS Policy Manual.

US Immigration and Enforcement Services (ICE)
ICE enforces more than 400 federal statutes and focuses on customs violations, immigration enforcement, preventing terrorism and combating the illegal movement of people and goods. For current information on ICE operations see the see the ICE Information Library.

Massachusetts laws

MGL c.90, § 8 Operator's licenses; applications; examinations
Starting July 1, 2023, eligible residents in Massachusetts can obtain a Standard (Class D or M) driver's license, regardless of immigration status, under the Work and Family Mobility Act.

MGL c.222, § 17 Notaries public not licensed to practice law; prohibition from offering legal advice or advertisement as legal specialist; immigration matters; real estate closings

MGL c.278, § 29D Conviction upon plea of guilty, nolo contendere or an admission to sufficient facts; motion to vacate
Court must tell defendants making a plea of guilty, plea of nolo contendere, or an admission to sufficient facts about potential immigration consequences of their decision.

Massachusetts regulations

121 CMR Office for Refugees and Immigrants

130 CMR 504 Health care reform: MassHealth: citizenship and immigration

Federal laws and regulations

Federal laws

8 U.S.C. Aliens and nationality

18 U.S.C. § 69 Nationality and citizenship

18 U.S.C. § 75 Passports and visas

The REAL ID Act of 2005, PL 109-13, Division B, Title II, 2005 

Federal regulations

6 CFR 37 Real ID driver’s licenses and identification cards

8 CFR Immigration regulations

28 CFR 44 Unfair immigration-related employment practices

64 FR 28689 Field guidance on deportability and inadmissibility on public charge grounds

"On Sept. 8, 2022, DHS announced a final rule that will implement the public charge ground of inadmissibility. The final rule will be effective on Dec. 23, 2022, and will apply to applications postmarked (or electronically submitted) on or after that date." For more information see the USCIS public charge page.

Court and rules

Immigration Court: Boston, Executive Office for Immigration Review, U.S. Dept. of Justice.

The Immigration Court practice manual, Executive Office for Immigration Review, U.S. Dept. of Justice.
A guide for practice before the immigration court.

Selected cases

Organizations

Immigration law help: Massachusetts
"An online directory of nonprofit organizations that provide free or low-cost immigration legal help. Users can search for organizations by state, county, or detention facility. Users can also refine their search by areas and types of legal assistance provided, populations served, and languages spoken."

Berkshire Immigrant Center
The Berkshire Immigrant Center serves over 700 immigrants and their families in Berkshire County each year by direct services, referrals, legal and procedural counseling, and general support free of charge or at below-market cost.

City of Boston immigration advancement resources
Do you need immigration advice from a lawyer? The Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Advancement offers free 15 minute immigration consultations.

  • When: First and third Wednesday of every month from 12 to 3 p.m.
  • How: Call (617) 635-2980 or email immigrantadvancement@boston.gov to schedule a 15 minute appointment.
  • Cost: Free

Massachusetts Office for Refugees and Immigrants
Promotes the full participation of refugees and immigrants as self-sufficient individuals and families in the economic, social, and civic life of Massachusetts. Eligible groups include: Afghan and Iraqi Special Immigrant Visa Holders, Amerasians, Asylees, Cuban/Haitian Entrants, Human Trafficking Victims, Legal Permanent Residents, and Refugees.

MIRA: Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition
"MIRA is the largest coalition in New England promoting the rights and integration of immigrants and refugees."

Web sources

Planning for a family emergency, MassLegalHelp (July 2022).
Helpful information for families to prepare for an emergency, including special advice for immigrant families. Includes information on how to fill out a caregiver affidavit authorization, with forms.

Attorney General guidance
The office of the Attorney General of Massachusetts provides guidance on 

Citizenshipworks, Immigration Advocates Network, the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, and Pro Bono Net.
Citizenshipworks is resource designed to make applying for citizenship easy, safer, and accessible for everyone. It includes:

  • An interactive online interview to help individuals to understand their eligibility for naturalization;
  • A self-paced interactive tutorial that explains the naturalization process step-by-step;
  • An online tutorial to help applicants prepare for the naturalization tests; and
  • Links to other resources and information about citizenship and naturalization available online."

Immi, Immigration Advocates Network and Pro Bono Net
"Immi helps immigrants in the U.S. understand their legal options." Includes an online screening tool, legal information, and referrals to nonprofit legal services organizations.

Same sex marriage and immigration, US Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Explains how to sponsor a same-sex spouse in immigration.

Understanding immigrants' eligibility for MassHealth & other subsidized coverage, Mass. Legal Services, 2022.
"Summarizes the current immigrant eligibility rules that MassHealth and the Health Connector use in making decisions about what kinds of coverage non-citizens with different kinds of status can receive."

Work and Family Mobility Act (WFMA), Mass. Registry of Motor Vehicles.
"Starting July 1, 2023, eligible residents in Massachusetts can obtain a Standard (Class D or M) driver's license, regardless of immigration status, under the Work and Family Mobility Act."

Print sources

Becoming a U.S. citizen : a guide to the law, exam & interview by IIona M. Bray, Nolo, 2021. (eBook available here with library card).

Fiancé & marriage visas : a couple's guide to U.S. immigration by Ilona M. Bray, Nolo, 2022. (eBook available at link with library card).

How to get a green card by Ilona Bray, Nolo, 2022. (eBook available at link with library card).

Immigration law and procedure, Bender, loose-leaf.

Immigration pleading and practice manual, annual, West.

Immigration practice manual, 3rd ed., MCLE, loose-leaf.

Kurzban’s immigration law sourcebook: a comprehensive outline and reference tool, American Immigration Counsel.

U.S. immigration made easy by Ilona Bray, Nolo, 2021. (eBook available here with library card).

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Last updated: May 18, 2023

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