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Appeals & Motions to Reopen

If you were denied by a U.S. Government official (USCIS or Immigration Court), you may be able to appeal the denial and still win your case. Not all is lost!  

If your case was denied by an Immigration Judge in immigration court, you can appeal.  

If you have a deportation order, you can appeal.

If your asylum case was denied, you can appeal.

If your adjustment of status case was denied, you can file a Motion to Reopen or Motion to Reconsider.  

Every denial decision has a proper appeal format and you need to speak to an experienced immigration attorney very quickly to file your appeal timely.

There are several appellate levels in the U.S. Immigration framework:

  1. USCIS  denial decisions can be sometimes overcome by filing a Motion to Reopen.
  2. Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) – hears appeals of USCIS denials of applications for Temporary Protected Status or TPS, employment-based visas, fiancé petitions, post-removal waivers and T and U Visa applications and related Adjustment of Status applications. 
  3. BIA (Board of Immigration Appeals) – an immigration appellate body that reviews appeals and motions to reopen from USCIS denials and Immigration Court denials.  They have the authority or jurisdiction to affirm or reverse a decision or remand the case back to the immigration judge for more proceedings. 
  4. The Federal Circuit Courts of Appeal review BIA decisions in constitutional law cases.

What is most important when filing an appeal or motion to reopen or motion to reconsider?

First, the deadline to file the appeal is the most important detail to keep track of.

Second, it is important to know what type of appeal or motion to make procedurally and to which agency.

Third, check the filing address and ensure the proper fee is attached (that includes writing the check fee to the right agency). 

What exactly is the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA)?

For most commonly seen immigration legal issues, aliens turn for appeals to the Board of Immigration Appeals. 

The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) has 21 Board Members and it is the highest immigration administrative judicial agency entrusted for interpreting and applying US immigration laws.  

The BIA is located in the headquarters of the Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR) in Falls Church, Virginia.  

BIA does not conduct courtroom hearings.  BIA decides its cases by holding a “paper review” of the documents submitted.  On rare occasions, the BIA will hear oral arguments of appealed cases.  

The BIA has nationwide jurisdiction (all 50 states) to hear appeals from immigration judge decisions and USCIS decisions.  Most appeals reaching the BIA are from immigration court proceedings (removal proceedings). Sometimes, BIA reviews exclusion proceedings for people applying for admission to enter U.S., and motions to reopen and reconsider denials by USCIS.  

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