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Administrative Law Research: Immigration Concentration Class Site

United States Code Review

The United States Code (U.S.C.) contains the current federal statutes and is what you use for your federal statutory research.


Just like on the state level, newly enacted federal laws (called public laws) are codified by topic into a code. Remember that codification is the process of taking legislative acts which create/amend statutes and arranging the statutes by topic into a statutory code. The purpose of codification is to put all the current statutes on the same topic together so it is easier to find the laws in effect about a specific topic.

Official Version

The official version is the print version published by the Government Publishing Office (GPO). It is not annotated and the volumes are always several years out of date (the GPO is very slow to publish them) so it is not very good for research puposes. There is also an unofficial GPO version online.

Annotated Versions - One Stop Research Shopping!

Luckily, commercial publishers moved in to fulfill the need for and up-to-date and annotated version of the United States Code! 

  • Westlaw publishes the United States Code Annotated (U.S.C.A.) which is available in print and online
  • Lexis publishes an annotated version which is called the United States Code Service (U.S.C.S.) which is available in print and online.

Other Versions

There are multiple unannotated out of date versions of the United States Code available for free online which you can find by Googling.

Click here for the video.

United States Code Review Continued

The United States Code is organized just like the Arizona Revised Statutes and all other state codes. The sections look just like A.R.S. sections.

Example - 8 U.S.C. 1372

Citation Format Example

8 U.S.C. 1372  is a United States Code citation. 8 is the title number and 1372 is the section number.

Organization of United States Code

The United States Code has 54 titles (really only 53 because one title is reserved) which are divided into chapters and subchapters.

Statutory Annotations Review

Annotated Codes

An annotated code has statutory annotations that help you with your research. 

Statutory annotations are one stop research shopping! Once you find a relevant statute, you find three things to help with your research.

  1. Cases that interpret your statutes (Notes of Decision and Citing References)
  2. Secondary sources that explain your statute (Context & Analysis and Citing References)
  3. Historical notes about history of the statute (History or Credits at the bottom of the screen)

Unannotated Codes

An unannotated code just has the text of the statute and is therefore not particularly useful for research purposes (except to read the statute). 

Westlaw Annotated Code Example - 8 U.S.C. 1372

GPO Annotated Code Example - 8 U.S.C. 1372

Finding Federal Statutes Review

There is NOTHING new to learn about searching for federal statutes (United States Code (USC) sections). You search for federal statutes the exact same way you search for Arizona statutes! 

General Finding Methods

  1. Finding statutory citations in sources (cases, secondary sources, etc.)
  2. Searching a USC database directly (Westlaw, Lexis, government websites)

Westlaw Database Example - United States Code Annotated (USCA)

  1. Navigating through (or searching) the table of contents
  2. Looking for terms in the subject index
  3. Searching (natural language or terms and connectors)

Lexis Database Example - United States Code Service

  1. Navigating through (or searching) the table of contents
  2. Looking for terms in the subject index (available in a separate database - United States Code Service - INDEX)
  3. Searching (natural language or terms and connectors)