Immigration judges are not perfect, and sometimes they make unfavorable decisions. When this happens, you have the option to appeal the decision.
Immigration Appeal Lawyers can review your case and advise you of the best course of action going forward.
Generally, you only get one chance to file an appeal to the BIA, so make sure it is done properly.
Appeals to the BIA
If you are denied asylum, green cards or deportation by an immigration judge, you may appeal that decision to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). You will need to submit a brief to the BIA indicating that you want to do so. In this brief you, or your lawyer, will explain why you think the judge made a mistake in his or her decision. You will need to show that the judge made mistakes in applying the law or the facts of your case.
Generally, an appeal to the BIA is decided by a single Board Member. However, you may ask for a three-Board Member panel to review your appeal. It is important to argue your case zealously in order to get the three-Board Member panel review that you need. Our attorneys have extensive experience arguing cases to the BIA. They will prepare a detailed brief that addresses all the reasons why the immigration judge or USCIS made a mistake in his or her decision.
Appeals to the AAO
The AAO reviews appeals involving USCIS field office decisions, as well as some immigration and Customs Enforcement determinations. Appeals to the AAO are typically based on written submissions and oral arguments are not required, though this can be requested.
The grounds for review are very narrow – we can only argue that the original judge or official misapplied the law, made a mistake in application of the law, or violated your constitutional rights. It is important to note that this is not a chance to restate your case or introduce new evidence – if you need more information, you should file a motion to reopen or reconsider instead.
The AAO sometimes “adopts” non-precedent decisions as precedent judgments to provide policy guidance in future proceedings or to reinforce existing laws and policies. These decisions can be accessed on the AAO’s Adopted Decisions webpage. The AAO may also, with the approval of the Attorney General, issue a precedent decision that announces a new legal interpretation or policy and is binding on Department of Homeland Security (DHS) employees.
Appeals to the Circuit Court of Appeals
Once a district court decides your case, you can file an appeal to a circuit court. The United States is divided into twelve federal judicial circuits, each with a court of appeals. Each circuit court has three judges. Appeals to these courts are based on whether the trial court applied the law correctly, not on the facts of the case. Unlike district courts, these appellate courts do not use jury trials.
Defendants can appeal the decisions of circuit courts by filing a Notice of Appeal with the clerk of the court that heard your case. You must serve a copy of the notice on all other parties to your case. You must also order and pay the cost of a transcript.
The appellate court will review your case and may hear oral arguments. Often, however, cases are decided by written submissions known as briefs. Depending on the nature of your appeal, it may be sent back to the district court for further proceedings or to the Supreme Court of the United States.
Appeals to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
If the BIA or AAO refuse to hear your appeal, you can file an appeal with the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. The Fourth Circuit can overturn the BIA’s decision or affirm it. Generally, the BIA must receive your appeal within 30 days of the issuance of its decision.
In addition to the BIA and AAO, you can also appeal USCIS administrative decisions, immigration court judges’ decisions or detention center officials’ decisions. In rare instances, you can petition the Supreme Court for further review.
The Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit is considered mid-sized among US Circuit Courts, with 15 authorized judgeships. The judges are known for their collegiality and, by tradition, step down from the bench after argument to shake hands with counsel. The court also publishes its opinions. We at VFN Immigrants First have attorneys admitted to practice before the Fourth Circuit, a special admission beyond an attorney’s normal law license.