Board of Immigration Appeals

What is the Board of Immigration Appeals?

The U.S. Board of Immigration Appeals is the highest administrative body in the U.S. government dealing with immigration issues.  The BIA is made up of 15 board members responsible for administering and applying the nation’s immigration laws.  The board is part of the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), which is part of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).

At the BIA, most of these appeals involve a review of the paperwork – including the original application or petition, briefs, motions and the decision – associated with the case.  Unlike an appeal heard in a traditional courtroom, oral arguments are seldom permitted and the parties to a case are notified of the BIA’s decision via mail.  Once the BIA makes a decision, all immigration judges and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officers must follow the decision unless it is overturned by the U.S. Attorney General or a federal court.  Click here to visit the BIA’s website.

What kinds of cases does the BIA hear?

The BIA mainly reviews cases involving orders of removal (deportation) and applications for relief from removal.  Most cases are reviewed by a single board member but certain types of cases are reviewed by three (3) board members, such as:

  • When there are inconsistencies in rulings between two or more immigration judges
  • When it’s necessary to establish a precedent to clarify the meaning of a law or procedure, which will be followed in other cases
  • When an immigration judge or DHS officer’s decision is inconsistent with the law or other decisions
  • When there’s a controversial case or a case of national importance
  • When an immigration judge makes a factual error

What cases will the BIA refuse to hear?

Appeals from people who were deported in absentia, meaning they were not present at the deportation proceedings
Applications for adjustment of status that have been already denied by the Department of Homeland Security
Appeals of Department of Homeland Security fines and penalties
Employment-based immigrant visa petitions
Waivers of the 2-year foreign residence requirement for J-1 exchange visitors
H and L nonimmigrant visa petitions
K-1 fiancé / fiancée petitions
Appeals to adjust the amount of time allowed for voluntary departure if set by an immigration judge

What Should I Know About My Appeal?

You have the right to appeal your removal order to the BIA.  The appeals process is complex and takes time.  To maximize your chances of success, it is important to consult with an immigration attorney who can prepare a sound legal argument based on potential mistakes made by the immigration judge in your case.

Contact our immigration appellate attorneys at Keyser Law Firm for a free case evaluation.