Immigration Appeals Process: What You Need to Know

For immigrants in Las Vegas, the journey toward permanent residency or citizenship is often filled with twists and turns. One such turn could be an unfavorable outcome in your immigration hearing. The flood of emotions after a negative outcome—frustration, disbelief, and even despair—can be overwhelming. However, the immigration appeals process offers a chance to tell your story and convince the authorities that you have the right to and deserve to stay in the United States. 

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As experienced Las Vegas immigration appeals lawyers, De Castroverde Criminal & Immigration knows how stressful immigration hearings are and the potentially devastating results of an adverse decision. In this blog, our compassionate attorneys unpack the complexities of the immigration appeals process, highlight its significance, and equip you with the knowledge you need to face this challenge head-on.

Who Hears Immigration Appeals in the United States?

The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), which is part of the Department of Justice, is responsible for interpreting immigration laws in the U.S. and is the agency that hears immigration appeals. Unlike traditional court settings, the BIA primarily conducts “paper reviews” for case appeals, meaning you likely won’t be arguing your case in person before a judge. Even so, there are rare cases where BIA judges will hear oral arguments.

Most cases that reach the BIA involve deportation proceedings or petitions for relief from deportation orders. Their decisions are binding, meaning lower-level Immigration Judges and immigration officials with the Department of Homeland Security must comply with what the BIA says. However, federal courts or the U.S. Attorney General can modify or overrule the BIA’s decisions if they find the board incorrectly interpreted immigration law.

Immigration Appeals Process

Steps in the Immigration Appeals Process

According to information from the Department of Justice’s Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), the basic steps in the immigration appeals process are as follows:

  • Notify the Immigration Judge of Your Intent to Appeal: After the Immigration Judge delivers their verdict, clearly express your desire to appeal by saying that you “reserve” your right to do so. If, on the other hand, you waive your appeal rights, the judge’s verdict is sealed, and immediate removal from the U.S. is possible. If you receive the judge’s decision in writing through the mail, there’s no need to reserve your right to appeal verbally. However, you should file a Notice of Appeal with the BIA quickly, as you cannot appeal the Immigration Judge’s decision.
  • Fill Out the Notice of Appeal: Complete the Notice of Appeal using Form EOIR-26. You submit this form with enough time to ensure the Board of Immigration receives it within 30 days of the judge’s decision. Otherwise, the board will dismiss your appeal. Ensure you provide a detailed explanation of why you appeal the judge’s decision.
  • Send the Notice of Appeal: Dispatch the original signed forms directly to the Board of Immigration Appeals. Include a check or money order for $110 with your form and send it to the following address: Board of Immigration Appeals, Clerk’s Office, 5107 Leesburg Pike, Suite 2000, Falls Church, VA 22041. If you cannot pay the fee, attach a Fee Waiver Request (Form EOIR-26A) to your Notice of Appeal. You must also send a copy of your appeal forms to the Department of Homeland Security. Finally, don’t forget to retain a copy of anything you send for your records.
  • Wait to Hear from the Board: After submitting your appeal, you can bolster your case with a written brief detailing the factual and legal aspects of your case. The Board will provide you with a transcript of your hearing and the Judge’s verdict and set deadlines for you and the Department of Homeland Security to submit your respective briefs. It’s imperative to meet the BIA’s deadline for your brief submission, and you have the right to respond to the Department of Homeland Security’s brief if you wish. Once the BIA has decided on your case, they will send a letter detailing their decision.

One last thing to note is that when you submit your appeal, any removal proceedings against you or anyone in your family are automatically halted until the BIA decides the issue. You can use this time to gather additional evidence and take other steps to protect your immigration status.

What Happens After the BIA Hears Your Appeal?

Once the BIA reviews and rules on your case, one of two scenarios will unfold. If the BIA upholds the judge’s original decision, you aren’t at the end of the road. You have the right to challenge this affirmation by lodging an additional appeal with your local U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, continuing your pursuit for a favorable outcome. On the other hand, if the BIA reverses the immigration judge’s verdict, it means you have won the legal battle (for the moment). You get to sidestep the initial negative repercussions set by the immigration judge, such as being forced to leave the country, losing your immigration status, etc.

However, it’s essential to stay informed and prepared. Even after the BIA reaches its decision, immigration authorities can escalate the matter by appealing the BIA’s ruling. Therefore, while a favorable decision from the BIA is a step in the right direction, it’s pivotal to remain vigilant.

How Our Las Vegas Immigration Attorneys Can Help You

At De Castroverde Criminal & Immigration, our dedicated team can assist and understand you need during this critical time. From deciphering complex legal scenarios to ensuring all your documentation is in order, our attorneys will work tirelessly to give your case the attention it deserves. We recognize the immense weight each immigration case holds for an individual or a family, and we will stand with you every step of the way, guiding you toward the best possible outcome.

With our Las Vegas team at your side, you’ll feel more confident and informed as you pursue your immigration appeal. Call (702) 996-3779 or complete our contact form for a free consultation.