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Deportation proceedings are mentally and emotionally tasking affairs. Where the proceedings go sour on you, it feels like Armageddon.

The fight’s not over though. Even when the immigration court decides against you. You have the option of appealing the decision of the court or administrative body.

The appeals process gives you the chance to re-evaluate your strategy and give the fight at residency another shot. There are different stages of this appeals process as set out below.

USCIS’ Administrative Appeals Office

The Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) is the arm of the United States’ Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) that deals with appeals of the decisions of the USCIS.

It hears cases including appeals of on rejection of employment based immigrant petitions and non-immigrant worker petitions. If you have been denied a re-entry permit or if your approval for an immigrant visa petition was revoked by the USCIS, you can also appeal to the AAO.

The AAO can also reopen one of its own earlier decisions. Although, it would first determine if the request meets its own requirements for reconsider that decision. You can request the court to do this by filing a motion to reopen. This motion must be supported by new facts that were not present or considered before.

Immigration Court

After detention by the ICE, deportation and removal hearings would be conducted before an immigration judge in the U.S. Immigration court. However, this is dependent on whether you are an arriving alien or resident immigrant.

An arriving alien is one who is detained as he is about to enter into the U.S., usually at the airport/point of entry. If you are an arriving alien, you may not have the opportunity of a hearing. In such situation, the immigration agencies may utilize expedited removal from the country.

A resident immigrant is already resident in the country. Such person would usually be in immigration court because they have failed to adhere to the conditions of their residency. If you are a resident immigrant, you would most likely have your day in immigration court.

You can appeal decisions of administrative agencies like the USCIS at the immigration court.

Board of Immigration Appeals

If you have been ordered to leave the U.S., you can appeal that order before the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). This body is the highest administrative body that hears appeals from immigration judges and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Proceedings before the BIA are entirely documentary. They rarely hear oral arguments. They would only require a paper review of the case.

They determine appeals on family based immigrant petitions as well as orders of removal and applications for relief from removal.

Their decision is binding on the immigration judges and DHS officials. Thus, you cannot be deported unless they decide to appeal and even then, not until the appeal is decided.

Immigration Appeal forms

There are certain forms you’d need to file in order to successfully initiate an immigration appeal.

To appeal before the BIA, you need to file a Notice of Appeal and the required fee. The type of notice you’d need to file depends on the decision you are appealing. This must be done within 30 days of the immigration judge’s decision. If you file your notice of appeal late, your immigration appeal may be summarily dismissed.

Federal Courts

If you disagree with the BIA ruling, you can also appeal to the Federal Circuit courts. The Federal courts are of limited jurisdiction though and can only hear certain immigration claims.

The matters you can challenge at the Federal Circuit court includes:

  • the USCIS’ unreasonable delay in adjudicating an application or petition
  • the USCIS’ denial of an application for naturalization
  • unlawful detention in immigration custody
  • a removal order on legal or constitutional grounds

United States’ Courts of Appeals

An appeal can also lie to the Federal Court of Appeals. It is usually filed in the circuit of the who considered the case at the Federal court or BIA.

If it is in respect of a removal order, the petition must be filed within 30 days before the date that the removal order will become final. A motion can also be filed to stay the removal pending the resolution of the appeal.

If the decision of the Federal Court of Appeals is unsatisfactory, a further appeal could lie to the Federal Supreme Court.

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