Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA)

The BIA is the highest administrative body for interpreting and applying immigration law. Most appeals consist of a “paper review” of cases, but on rare occasions, the BIA will hear oral arguments. The BIA has nationwide jurisdiction to hear appeals from certain decisions rendered by immigration judges in court, and by district directors of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in a wide variety of proceedings. The BIA mostly decides appeals from orders of removal and applications for relief from removal. It also decides cases involving the exclusion of aliens applying for admission to the United States, immigrant visa petitions, fines imposed upon carriers for the violation of immigration laws, and motions to reopen or reconsider a previous decision. All DHS officers and immigration judges must follow published BIA decisions, unless modified or overruled by the Attorney General or a federal court. Most BIA decisions are subject to judicial review in the federal courts.

Federal Judicial Review

Federal Judicial Review is the power of the court to examine an act of the Legislative or Executive branch and to invalidate the act if it is contrary to constitutional principles.

Certain BIA decisions may be reviewed by the United States Circuit Courts of Appeals. In addition to challenging the BIA’s decision, the federal courts may be used to challenge: unreasonable delay by USCIS in adjudicating an application or petition; improper denial by USCIS of an application for naturalization; the unlawful detention of someone in immigration custody; and a removal order on legal or constitutional grounds.

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