How it all works

Keeping up with changes in immigration policy and procedure can be challenging. It helps to understand who’s calling the shots - who can do what, who’s in charge of what… and whom? Here’s a breakdown of the order of operations.

The Executive Branch

The executive branch is headed by the President of the United States, and includes the Vice President, 15 executive departments, the heads of each of which make up the President’s Cabinet, and more than 50 independent federal agencies and commissions, federal judges, ambassadors, and the Executive Office of the President, which includes the President’s immediate staff and additional entities, including Office of Management and Budget.

All told, the Executive Branch employs more than 4 million Americans, which includes members of the armed forces.

The President’s power includes signing or vetoing legislation enacted by Congress, negotiating and signing treaties, extending pardons and clemencies for federal crimes, and issuing executive orders that direct executive officers or clarify and further existing laws. These powers are not unlimited, and are subject to checks and balances from the judicial and legislative branches of government.

View a description of the Executive Branch and powers here.

The Legislative Branch

The Legislative Branch is the United States Congress, made up of the House of Representatives and the Senate. The Constitution grants Congress the sole authority to enact legislation and declare war, the right to confirm or reject many Presidential appointments, and substantial investigative powers.

The House of Representatives consists of 435 voting members elected from the 50 states, divided in proportion to their total population, and 6 non-voting members, representing the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Representatives serve two-year terms and are elected every even year.

The presiding officer of the chamber is the Speaker of the House, elected by the Representatives. He or she is third in the line of succession to the Presidency.

The House has exclusive powers to initiate revenue bills, impeach federal officials, and elect the President in the case of an electoral college tie.

The Senate is composed of 100 Senators, two elected to represent each state. They serve six-year terms by the people of each state. Senator's terms are staggered so that about one-third of the Senate is up for reelection every two years.

The Vice President of the United States serves as President of the Senate and may cast the decisive vote in the event of a tie in the Senate.

With the notable exceptions that the House must also approve appointments to the Vice Presidency and any treaty that involves foreign trade, the Senate has the sole power to confirm those of the President's appointments that require consent, to ratify treaties, and to try impeachment cases for federal officials referred to it by the House.

View a description of the Legislative Branch, process and powers here.

Here’s where you can find contact information for your elected Senators and Representatives.

The Judicial Branch

Congress determines the shape and structure of the federal judiciary. Members of the Judicial Branch are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate.

In addition to the Supreme Court, Congress has established the United States district courts, which try most federal cases, and 13 United States courts of appeals, which review appealed district court cases. Cases typically proceed from district court to appellate court and may be heard and decided by the Supreme Court. Once the Supreme Court interprets a law, inferior courts must apply the Supreme Court's interpretation to the facts of a particular case.

View a description of the Judicial Branch and process here.

The State legislature of North Carolina

The state legislature of North Carolina is called the North Carolina General Assembly.

Laws of North Carolina, known as statutes, are made by the General Assembly. The North Carolina General Assembly (NCGA) is made of two bodies or houses; the Senate, which has 50 members; and the House of Representatives, which consists of 120 members. Each legislator represents either a Senatorial District or a House District.

The General Assembly meets in regular session beginning in January of each odd-numbered year, and adjourns to reconvene the following even-numbered year for a shorter session. The Senate and the House of Representatives meet in their respective chambers on Monday evenings and during the day on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

At the beginning of each session, the President Pro Tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives appoint members to serve on the standing committees of each body. Every bill introduced is studied by at least one committee in the Senate and in the House of Representatives. Every legislator serves on several committees. Committee meetings are held in the morning and late afternoon.

Find out more about the North Carolina General Assembly here.

The University of North Carolina system – overview and state regulation

In this section of information, “the University” references the University of North Carolina system.

The governance structure, policy framework, and administrative supervision of the University of North Carolina system are established in the North Carolina State Constitution, the North Carolina General Statutes, The Code of the University, and the UNC Policy Manual, established and maintained by the Board of Governors and the UNC system president.

The North Carolina State Constitution directs the General Assembly to maintain the University of North Carolina, provide for the selection of its governing board, vest such governing board with necessary privileges and authorities for the University's operation, and enact laws necessary for the maintenance and management of the University.

As required by North Carolina's Constitution, the General Assembly adopted Chapter 116 of the North Carolina General Statutes, which establishes the Board of Governors as a corporate body known and distinguished by the name, "the University of North Carolina," a public, multi-campus university composed of 17 constituent institutions and other educational, research, and public service organizations.

As reflected in North Carolina law and The Code of the University, the Board of Governors is responsible for the general determination, control, supervision, management and governance of all affairs of the constituent institutions. The board determines the functions, educational activities, and academic programs of the constituent institutions and the types of degrees to be awarded. The board elects the president of the University and, on the president's nomination, the chancellors of the constituent institutions.

The board develops, prepares, and presents to the governor and the General Assembly a single, unified recommended budget to provide for the needs of the University, including the constituent institutions. The board also approves the establishment and disestablishment of the academic programs of the constituent institutions. Together, the Board of Governors and the president are charged with fostering the development of a well-planned and coordinated system of higher education.

The board exercises its general governing authority in close coordination with the president through the establishment and adoption of policies and regulations that form the policy framework within which the president, the chancellors, and the president's staff, lead, manage and administer the affairs of the University.

The president is the chief executive officer of the University, responsible to the board for leading the University and executing the board's policies. The single, multi-campus University requires a University-wide administration that is directed by the president. The president manages the affairs of the University directly and through the chancellors and the senior officers and staff who report to the president.

Each chancellor is the chief executive of the constituent institution, and is responsible to the president for the administration of the institution, including the enforcement of the decisions, actions, policies, and regulations of the Board of Governors.

Each board of trustees exercises the authority and responsibilities delegated to it by the Board of Governors, serves as advisor to the Board of Governors on matters pertaining to its institution, and advises its chancellor concerning the management and development of the institution.

Consistent with the general governance responsibilities of the Board of Governors and the executive and administrative responsibilities allocated to the president and the chancellors, the board has delegated significant parts of its authority over the affairs of the constituent institutions to the boards of trustees or, through the president, to the chancellors of the constituent institutions.

The delegations of authority and responsibility favor institutional autonomy, and include broad powers to manage institutional affairs. The delegations of authority to constituent institutions are intended to afford each of the constituent institutions substantial latitude in the processes used to fulfill their missions and reach institutional and University-wide strategic goals. The Board of Governors retains all powers that are not specifically delegated to institutional boards of trustees or officials, and may rescind any delegation of authority at any time in whole or in part.

The provisions of the North Carolina Constitution described above, along with the statutes establishing the University of North Carolina, endow the Board of Governors with authority for the University's governance, supervision and management. That broad authority clearly remains subject to the enactments of the North Carolina General Assembly. These authorities are described in detail in The Code of the University and the UNC Policy Manual, as established and maintained by the Board of Governors and the president.

Information provided by Tom Shanahan, senior vice president and general counsel, UNC-GA. In this section of information, “the University” references the University of North Carolina system.

Appalachian State University’s organization and administration

Appalachian State University is one of 16 constituent universities in the University of North Carolina system. The administrative head of the University of North Carolina is the President elected by the Board of Governors. Each institution is headed by a chancellor who reports to the President of the University of North Carolina.

Appalachian’s chancellor is Dr. Sheri Everts. You can find all official communications from Chancellor Everts to the university, as well as public address transcripts, here.

Read about the Appalachian’s organization and administration here.