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Immigration Law Blog

Friday, March 1, 2019

What is the Board of Immigration Appeals?

The Board of Immigration Appeals is the highest administrative body for issues pertaining to immigration laws. It is an administrative appellate body that reviews decisions made by United States immigration courts and district directors of the Department of Homeland Security, among other departments. The Board of Immigration Appeals is headquartered in Falls Church, Virginia.

What are the Powers of the Board of Immigration Appeals?

The Board of Immigration Appeals has the authority to review and potentially overturn decisions made by immigration courts, the United States’ Citizenship and Immigration Services, and the Department of Homeland Security. While the Board of Immigration Appeals is the highest administrative body for immigration law, it is not the highest authority. Some decisions made by the Board of Immigration Appeals can be appealed to the United States’ Court of Appeals, and then potentially to the Supreme Court of the United States.

Who Makes up the Board of Immigration Appeals?

The Board of Immigration Appeals is authorized to be comprised of up to 21 Board Members with a Chairman and Vice Chairman. A current list of Board Members can be found here.

Who will Hear an Appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals?

When making an appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals, you may have a single Board Member or a three-Board Member Review Panel. A three-board Member Review Panel is used in the following situations:

  • Settling inconsistencies among the rulings of different immigration judges
  • Establishing precedent construing the meaning of laws, regulations, or procedures
  • Reviewing decisions by immigration judges or the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) that are not in conformity with the law or with applicable precedents
  • ¸Resolving cases or controversies of major national import
  • Reviewing clearly erroneous factual determinations by immigration judges

For appeals not satisfying one of the above criteria, a single-Board Member Review is to be expected.

How Does the Board of Immigration Appeals Review Cases?

In the past, the Board of Immigration Appeals reviewed cases on what is known as a de novo standard which meant that the Board could disregard the immigration judge’s finding of fact or reasoning. However, in an effort to streamline the Board of Immigration Appeals and clear out the backlog, a new rule was put in place which requires the Board Member, or three-Board Member Review Panel, to find the immigration judge’s findings “clearly erroneous” in order to disregard them. Thus, under the new “clearly erroneous” standard, it is much harder for the Board of Immigration Appeals to overturn a prior decision made by an immigration judge.

What Happens if I want to Appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals?

If you want to appeal an immigration court decision, or another decision appealable to the Board of Immigration Appeals, you should first consult an experienced immigration attorney near you. Once the appeal has been filed, the Board may review the decision and give a ruling based on its review. In some situations, the Board may request a personal appearance, such as when granting a request for oral arguments on a motion, although this occurrence is quite rare.

 


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