Immigration Appeals FAQs

What is the Board of Immigration Appeals?

The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) is the nation’s highest administrative body for applying immigration laws. It is located in Falls Church, Virginia. The BIA reviews decisions from immigration judges, nationwide, and from the Department of Homeland Security, including United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The BIA rarely conducts in-person hearings and makes most decisions via a “paper review.”

Can a Deportation or Removal Order be Appealed?

Yes. If you lose your case in immigration court, you have 30 days to file an appeal with the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). Most appeals usually end here, despite the outcome. If you are not victorious at the BIA level, in certain instances, a further appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals may be possible. You make seek review with the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) if the decision with the U.S. Court of Appeals is unfavorable but the chances of SCOTUS reviewing your case are extremely slim.

Will I Have to Appear in Court for My Appeal?

Generally, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) does not conduct courtroom proceedings. It conducts a “paper review” of the case and makes a decision. On the rare occasion that it agrees to hear oral arguments, you should attend, if you are representing yourself. If you have an attorney, you may attend but only your attorney will be allowed to address the Board.

You may attend oral arguments before the U.S. Court of Appeals. If you have an attorney, the attorney will address the court, while you observe. You will not be asked any questions. Self-represented persons act as their own attorney and must adhere to court procedures, make their arguments and answer questions.

Can I be Deported While the Appeal is Pending?

Generally, if you are appealing a negative decision from an immigration judge to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), the removal process is automatically stayed (stopped). The appeal has to be filed within 30 days of the judge’s ruling. However, mistakes do happen and it is not unheard of for someone to be deported while their appeal is pending.

If you lose your case with the BIA, you have 30 days to appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals. You can be deported during this 30- day window, so it is important that you file your appeal quickly. You will have to file a “stay of removal” while your appeal is pending with the U.S. Court of Appeals, to be safe from deportation while you wait. However, filing a “stay of removal” is risky as it could prompt the government to arrest you and keep you detained while waiting for the decision. If you lose, this allows a quick deportation process, as you are already in custody.

What If I Lose My Appeal with the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA)?

In most circumstances, that case is over and you are to depart the United States or Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents will begin the deportation process. In the exceptional event that you are able to take your case to the Federal Court of Appeals, you will need a stay of the removal order for you to remain in the United States, while the appeal is pending.

Can I Appeal a Decision from USCIS?

Yes. If an I-130 Petition for Alien Relative was denied, you may file an appeal with the USCIS office that denied your case. If you lose there, you may further appeal this decision with the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA).

You cannot appeal a denial of an I-485 Application for Adjustment of Status. You may file a motion to reopen or reconsider with USCIS and if USCIS does not give you a favorable outcome, your case is sent to the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) for a final review.

You may also file a new I-485 application and pay the filing fees.

If your U.S. Naturalization Application is denied, you may file an appeal with the local USCIS office.

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