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Administrative Law Research: Immigration Concentration Class Site

Federal Register

What Is It?

The Federal Register was created in 1935 to serve as a record of the rulemaking activities of federal agencies. The Federal Register contains proposed and final regulations as well as notices, executive orders, and other information, as required by the federal Administrative Procedures Act.

There are TWO main purposes of the Federal Register.

  1. To inform the public of newly proposed regulations and plans to amend existing regulations
  2. To inform the public of final versions of regulations


The Federal Register issues are published daily and compiled into one huge continuously paginated volume for each year. 

Citation Format

INS Example - 62 FR 12915

This final rule that amended 8 C.F.R. 312.1 was published in the Federal Register beginning on page 62 FR 12915.

62 = volume number

12915 = page number

Official Version

The official version of the Federal Register is the print version published by the GPO. 

Online Sources of the Federal Register

Luckily, there are online sources of the Federal Register! See below.

Sources of the Federal Register

Like many primary sources of law, the Federal Register is available from both the government and commercial vendors.

Print Version

The official print version of the Federal Register is published by the Government Publishing Office (GPO) and the Office of the Federal Register and is usually only available in libraries since it takes up so much space.


The version on the govinfo site is an authenticated copy (certified by the GPO to be true and correct) of the official print Federal Register. The search features on the site make it difficult to search. There is no reason to use this version unless you are looking for page numbers to include in the Bluebook citation format.

federal provides an excellent unofficial version of the Federal Register. The information is organized by agency, has good search features, and is generally user friendly.

Commercial Versions

​Westlaw and Lexis have easily searchable versions of the Federal Register.

Federal Register Documents

The notice of a proposed or final rule contains a lot of information. For both, there is a preamble which explains the new rule or amendment and the reasons for it. For a final rule, there is a summary, contact information, background, summary of public comments, discussion of public comments, regulatory rule certification, etc. The notice also contains the text of the rule and the U.S.C. authority for the rule.

INS Example Continued

This final rule that amended 8 C.F.R. 312.1 was published in the Federal Register beginning on page 62 FR 12915.