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What Is the United States Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA)? Everything You Need to Know About the BIA

What Is the United States Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA)? Everything You Need to Know About the BIA

If you are currently in a situation in which an immigration judge determines the outcome of your immigration case, the United States Board of Immigration Appeals—BIA— court will be the highest authorized court for the final decision on your status. This article will inform you about the Board of Immigration Appeals, what they do and do not do, and reasoning behind their decisions. 

What is the BIA? Summary of the Board of Immigration Appeals

The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) is the highest administrative body for interpreting and applying immigration laws. Although the headquarters is in Falls Church, Virginia, the BIA is part of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), which means it is part of the federal court, with nationwide jurisdiction.

The BIA hears appeals from immigration judges or the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Only licensed attorneys or certified BIA representatives can represent people who submit appeals to the BIA.

What Appeals Does The Board of Immigration Review?

The board of immigration appeals only hears appeals from g immigration judges and (occasionally) DHS officials. It does not hear appeals from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which is in charge of many immigration applications and petitions. 

If you wish to appeal a decision made by a USCIS official, you would most likely submit your appeal or motion to reconsider or reopen to the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO). 

If you do not know if a USCIS official, DHS, or an immigration judge decided to wish to appeal, speak to your immigration litigation lawyer. We can help you with the legal process and prepare you for the BIA or AAO.

What Decisions Do the BIA Appeal?

The BIA appeals decisions made by immigration judges or, at times, the Department of Homeland Security. What is the BIA’s specific appeal? 

Decisions Made by Immigration Judges 

Some examples of appeal cases decided by immigration judges handled by BIA include:

The BIA will not handle an appeal if an immigration judge makes a decision based on credible fear or reasonable fear determinations. A person’s credible fear of persecution is referred to as credible fear. . During credible fear hearings, an immigrant presents before an immigration judge that they have been or fear being persecuted because of their: 

  • Race
  • Religion
  • Nationality
  • Political or social affiliations

Establishing credible fear is part of an asylum process. If an immigration officer determines that the person does not have credible fear, removal proceedings will most likely be initiated. 

Decisions Made by the Department of Homeland Security

There are also some cases in which the BIA can appeal decisions made by DHS. These include:

  • Certain DHS penalties
  • Certain DHS fines for violating immigration laws
  • Immigrant relative petitions
  • Waivers of inadmissibility 

It’s important to note that DHS reviews and decides on applicants’ adjustment of status . If your adjustment of status application is denied and you wish to appeal, contact an immigration attorney immediately. You will go through AAO rather than BIA.

Typical BIA Immigration Cases

BIA immigration cases are appeals for orders of removal or deportation. BIA also sees many application appeals for relief from removal, which is the act of applying for certain qualifying immigration benefits while in removal proceedings so the person does not have to be deported. Most BIA cases involve deportation decisions but can include the circumstances mentioned above such as adjustment to permanent resident status, cancellation of removal, and certain waivers of inadmissibility

Your BIA Decision 

Although a DHS officer and Immigration Judge make most BIA decisions, they are subject to review in the federal court system. To appeal your decision made by an immigration judge, Form EOIR-26 must be completed and submitted. It is recommended you consult an experienced immigration lawyer to assist you in your appeal.

BIA Immigration: Appealing A Removal Proceedings Decision

If you are involved in removal proceedings, you may go through an immigration court process. If the Immigration Judge decides on removal, you may request an appeal right to the judge right there. 

The BIA will need the EOIR-26 Form Notice of Appeal within 30 days of the Immigration Judge’s decision. 

Consider that the 30-day period is 30 calendar days, and weekends and holidays are included in the timeframe for submitting your Notice of Appeal. This is why it’s crucial to send your notice as soon as possible. Your immigration attorney can help you in completing Form EOIR-26 on time. 

Is Any Office Above the Board of Immigration Appeals?

The BIA is the highest level to interpret and apply immigration laws. However, you can appeal a BIA decision with the United States Court of Appeals. Similar to the original appeal timeline, you must file an appeal within 30 days of the BIA’s decision.

What Are BIA Locations?

The BIA has only one office, which is located in Falls Church, Virginia. The general address for the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), where the BIA is located, is 5019 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041. However, if you wish to contact or locate a specific office within EOIR, check the U.S. DOJ address page and search for the correct suite number. 

Will I Need to Go to BIA Court?

Even though the BIA is located in Falls Church, VA, you rarely need to go to the physical building or courtroom. You will only need to send paperwork to the BIA to appeal your case. This rule is not without exceptions. . The BIA may hear arguments in person at its headquarters but it mostly conducts paper reviews.

Do I Need An Immigration Attorney to Get A BIA Decision?

You have the right to represent yourself when requesting an appeal with the BIA. 

That being said, it is in your best interest to work with an immigration attorney. Immigration laws are extremely complicated, particularly those dictating removal proceedings and appeals. If you request an appeal, you will need to argue why the deciding party (DHS or an Immigration Judge) was incorrect in their decision. This requires in-depth knowledge of immigration law as well as previous cases handled by the BIA. 

The immigration attorneys at Scott D. Pollock & Associates P.C. have over 30 years of in-depth knowledge and experience in immigration law. If you need to appeal to the BIA, it’s best to have an accredited immigration litigation lawyer by your side. We can also help you complete your forms and documents and file an EOIR-29, which needs to be submitted in English. If it is not in English, your appeal will be dismissed. 

The BIA usually only makes immigration decisions outside of a courtroom by conducting paper reviews. This implies that your paperwork must be compiled orderly and follow BIA standards, which can be difficult. If an oral argument is possible, having an immigration attorney can be highly beneficial since they will represent you before the BIA. Ask your attorney or the attorneys at Scott D. Pollock & Associates, P.C. about their BIA appeal success rate and experience dealing with BIA cases.

BIA Appeal Processing Time

A typical BIA appeal processing period ranges from six to twelve months. However, depending on the case, this may be extended.  Delays may also happen depending on the amount of backlog. 

Can I Make A BIA Extension Request?

According to the DOJ, “extension requests are not favored.” The BIA can extend deadlines, but it is rare. It’s best to immediately conduct your appeal request.

How Can I Check My BIA Case Status?

Call the EOIR customer service line at 1.800.898.7180 to learn more about the status of your immigration case. You can also learn about appeal due dates, brief due dates, filing information, decision outcomes, and hearing information. 

Call 703.605.1007 for other BIA case status information, such as appeals, motions, deportation stays, BIA decisions, change of address, and more. 

Contact an Immigration Attorney Today

The attorneys at Scott D. Pollock & Associates, P.C. are experienced in representing individuals who have received negative decisions from an immigration judge or the Department of Homeland Security. With over seven decades of combined experience, we’re here to offer you the legal assistance you need. Call 312.444.1940 to talk with a member of our team today.

We're looking forward to hearing from you!