Seeking another look

Agency Appeals and Motions

In Brief

How We
Can Help

We offer a full slate of motions services–including motions to reopen and reconsider in the immigration courts, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), service centers and field offices, Administrative Appeals Office, and other Department of Homeland Security offices–and direct and indirect appeals in the BIA and AAO.

In the Immigration Courts and the Board of Immigration Appeals

Appeals and Motions Before the Executive Office for Immigration Review

Photo of EOIR's headquarters at One Skyline Tower by Sabreguy29 is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

In the Immigration Courts

After an immigration judge (IJ) decides a case, either party may ask the IJ to reopen that case or reconsider the decision.

Among other things, you can ask the IJ to reopen the case if you can present new, previously unavailable evidence, or evidence that you did not receive required notice, that your former counsel rendered ineffective assistance, or that the proceedings were fundamentally unfair. You can also ask the IJ to reopen you case if you can demonstrate that conditions have changed in your country in a way that affects your eligibility for asylum, withholding of removal, or Convention Against Torture.

You may also be able to ask an IJ to reconsider any decision if you can show that the IJ erred factually or legally.

In the Board of Immigration Appeals

Either party may appeal an immigration judge’s decision in removal, deportation, exclusion, rescission, or custody redetermination proceedings to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), an administrative tribunal in Falls Church, Virginia, that is part of the same agency as the immigration courts. And IJs as well as certain DHS officers may also certify certain cases to the BIA.
A single BIA member may reverse the decision if doing so is plainly consistent with and required by intervening Board or judicial precedent, by an intervening Act of Congress, or by an intervening final regulation. And three-member panels may settle inconsistencies among the rulings of different IJs; establish precedents construing the meaning of laws, regulations, or procedures; review IJ or DHS decisions that do not conform with the law or applicable precedents; resolve cases or controversies of major national import; review clearly erroneous factual determination by IJs; otherwise reverse IJ or DHS decisions; or resolve complex, novel, unusual, or recurring issues of law or fact.
After the BIA issues a decision in removal proceedings, either party may ask the BIA to reopen it or reconsider the decision. The standards are very similar to those that apply to motions to reopen or reconsider before the IJs.
The BIA can also review appeals from some other decisions, including service center and field office decisions in family-based visa petition proceedings, special-dangerousness determinations, and decisions relating to administrative fines and penalties.

In the Service Centers and Field Offices and the Administrative Appeals Office

Appeals and Motions Before United States Citizenship and Immigration Services

Photo of Grand Canyon Naturalization Ceremony by Grand Canyon National Park is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

In the Service Centers and Field Offices

After a local director had made a decision, the affected party may ask that office to reopen that case or reconsider the decision. The procedures vary depending on the type of case and the office that made the decision. And you may have a very short period to gather a lot of documents. If you have recently received an adverse decision from a service center or field office, you should contact counsel soon.

In the Administrative Appeals Office

The petitioner or applicant may also appeal the local director’s decision to the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO). And upon receiving that appeal, the local office may treat the appeal as a motion to reopen or reconsider and take favorable action on initial field review.
After the AAO decides the case, the petitioner or application can also ask the AAO to reopen the case or reconsider the decision.

In Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement Offices

Appeals and Motions Before Other Department of Homeland Security Offices

Affected parties can also seek reopening or reconsideration from Customs and Border Protection offices, e.g., asking port of entry officers to revisit their expedited removal order, or Immigration and Customs Enforcement offices, e.g., asking the SEVP Analysis and Operations Center or SEVP School Certification Unit officers to revisit a denial notice.

“Administrative proceedings must conform to the basic notions of fundamental fairness.” Matter of G-, 20 I. & N. Dec. 764, 780 (BIA 1993).

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