An immigrant who loses an immigration court hearing, or whose immigration application is denied, has the right to appeal the decision. Our immigration appeals lawyers handle appeals of all types of immigration matters – from deportation orders to denials of visas or requests for asylum.
Removal (deportation) orders and other decisions by immigration judges are appealed to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA).1
Immigration appeals to either agency must be filed within 30 days from when the USCIS officer or immigration judge makes his or her decision.
An immigrant who loses an appeal may be able to appeal further to a federal court of appeals. Federal courts have jurisdiction to review most decisions by the BIA as well as some matters involving USCIS actions.
To help you get a better overview of immigration appeals, we discuss the following, below:
- 1. What matters are appealed to the Board of Immigration Appeals?
- 2. What matters are appealed to the Administrative Appeals Office?
- 3. What immigration matters can be appealed to a federal court?
- 4. Appeals of “credible fear” and “reasonable fear” determinations
- 5. Why use an immigration lawyer?
For more detailed information, you may also wish to review our articles on:
- Appealing an Immigration Court Decision to the Board of Immigration Appeals;
- Appealing a U.S. Customs and Immigration Services Determination to the Administrative Appeals Office;
- Immigration Appeals to the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit; or
- The Immigration Court Process.
The Board of Immigration Appeals is an administrative agency within the U.S. Department of Justice. It considers appeals of decisions made by immigration judges during the immigration court process.
Matters within the BIA’s jurisdiction include:
- Deportation orders,
- Withholding of removal,
- Asylum (other than credible fear and reasonable fear determinations),
- Reopening of immigration cases, and
- Denial of an immigration bond.2
The Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) reviews determinations made by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officers.
The AAO considers appeals of over approximately fifty different types of immigration applications and petitions, including:
- Most employment-based immigrant and non-immigrant visa petitions;
- Applications for Temporary Protected Status (TPS);
- Fiancé(e) visa petitions;
- Applications for waiver of a ground of inadmissibility;
- Applications for permission to reapply for admission after deportation (I-212 waivers); and
- T and U visa applications and petitions.
Decisions by the Board of Immigration Appeals and some USCIS decisions can be further appealed to the federal appellate court of appropriate jurisdiction.
In California, the proper court is the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, also known as the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
The 9th circuit hears appeals of BIA decisions as well as challenges involving:
- Unreasonable delays by the USCIS in adjudicating an application or petition;
- Denial of an application for naturalization by the USCIS;
- Unlawful confinement of someone in immigration custody; or
- A removal order denied on legal or constitutional grounds.
An alien subject to expedited removal / summary deportation who fears persecution or torture in his or her home country can ask for a “credible fear” or “reasonable fear” review.
These are limited reviews conducted by a U.S. immigration officer rather than a judge. But credible and reasonable fear reviews can be appealed to an immigration judge.2
If the immigration judge determines that an alien has a credible fear of persecution or torture, the immigration judge shall vacate the order of deportation and the immigrant will be placed in regular removal (deportation) proceedings.3 During such proceedings the alien will have the opportunity to apply for asylum.
However, if an immigration judge determines that an alien does not have a credible fear of persecution or torture, the alien will be deported.
This decision is non-appealable.
Immigrants have the right to represent themselves during an appeal. However, both BIA and AAO appeals have strict rules and time limits that must be followed to the letter.
In addition, the BIA and AAO are each bound by prior decisions and court cases that can vary depending on the state in which the original decision was rendered. These cases and decisions can involve complex interpretations of constitutional law and must often be carefully researched and argued.
Most immigrants are better off, therefore, having an experienced lawyer handle their immigration appeal.
Need help with an immigration appeal? Call us…
Our California immigration attorneys represent handle appeals in immigration court, the Board of Immigration Appeals, the Administrative Appeals Office and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
We handle all immigration-related matters including deportation proceedings, post-conviction relief for immigrants and family-based adjustments.
For a free consultation with one of our caring immigration or criminal lawyers call us or fill out the form on this page.
- 8 CFR § 1003.1.
- 8 CRS § 1003.42.
- See Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”) 235(b)(1)(B)(iii)(I).