When you need to change your immigration status, you will have to deal with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and in many cases, you will have to submit applications, pay fees and potentially even attend interviews. Despite your efforts and investments, however, you may end up getting an unfavorable decision from USCIS. While these situations can be upsetting, frustrating and even disheartening, it’s important for people to remember that appealing USCIS decisions may be an option for them.
In this blog series, we will answer some commonly asked questions about appealing USCIS decisions. While the answers and info provided herein are general, you can easily obtain more specific info and professional advice regarding your immigration case and issues by contacting the Los Angeles immigration attorneys at the Hanlon Law Group, P.C.
Answers to Common Questions about Appealing USCIS Decisions…
Q – I recently received a notice regarding an unfavorable USCIS decision. What can I do about this?
A – If the USCIS has denied your application for some immigration status change, you may be able to appeal this decision. In fact, the notice of denial you received should detail whether or not you can appeal the USCIS decision and, if so, where you should file this appeal. Typically, appealing USCIS decisions will involve filing specific, detailed paperwork with either the:
- USCIS Administrative Appeals Office (AAO); or
- Board of Immigration Appeals (a division of the U.S. Department of Justice).
In the event that a person does NOT have the right to file an appeal, it may still be possible for him to get his case reopened or to file a motion to reconsider the decision.
If you’ve received a denial or some other unfavorable decision from USCIS, contact the Hanlon Law Group, P.C. to find out if you are eligible to file an appeal and, if so, your best options for moving forward and resolving your immigration issues as favorably and efficiently as possible.
Q – Is it possible to get the filing fees for appeals waived?
A – In general, no. USCIS typically does not waive the filing fees for appeals cases. However, per Department of Homeland Security (DHS) regulations (8 CFR 103.7(c)), when the underlying case or immigration application was eligible for a filing fee waiver, the appeal related to that case may also be eligible for waiver.
Q – Are there time limits for appealing USCIS decisions?
A – Yes. In general, people will have to file an appeal within 30 days of the date of the decision (i.e., the date on the notice they received from USCIS). It’s important to point out here that:
- The notice from USCIS should specify the date on which the appeal period ends.
- Extensions for appealing USCIS decisions are NOT available. In other words, if you miss the window for filing an appeal, you will lose your opportunity to do so in the future.
- Although appeals must be filed by the specified deadlines, supporting documentation to the appeal (like, for instance, briefs) may be submitted after the deadline in some cases.
Q – How do I file an appeal?
A – In most cases, filing an appeal will involve completing a Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion; there are, however, some exceptions to this, depending of course on the specific issue involved.
While the notice from USCIS regarding a denial and a person’s options for appealing USCIS decisions will usually detail the specific forms that have to be completed in order to officially initiate the appeals process, in general, the following forms may be applicable to the stated issues:
- Form N-336 (Request for a Hearing on A Decision in Naturalization Proceedings) is for appealing USCIS decisions regarding citizenship and naturalization matters.
- Form EOIR-29 (Notice of Appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals from a Decision of a DHS Officer) is for appealing USCIS decisions regarding immigration issues affecting alien relatives.
Q – What happens during the process of appealing USCIS decisions?
A – During the process of appealing USCIS decisions, the USCIS agent or officer who made the initial decision in the case will review the case. Then:
- A decision will be made regarding whether the case should be reopened or reconsidered, based on the information and arguments provided in the appeals documents
- The case will be forwarded to the AAO or the BIC for more intensive review if the officer reviewing the case decides that reopening or reconsidering the case is not warranted.
It’s important that people appealing USCIS decisions are also aware that filing an appeal will not stop other actions – such as, for instance, deportation – from taking place.
Q – When appealing USCIS decisions, do briefs need to be filed with appeals forms?
A – Not necessarily. Whether or not a brief will be required should be detailed in the notice a person receives regarding his options for appealing USCIS decisions. However, just because a brief is not required does not mean that a person shouldn’t provide one.
In fact, providing a brief with appeals forms (or after filing these forms) can provide further details about a person’s situation, as well as some essential reasoning for why that individual believes the USCIS may have made an erroneous decision or ruling in his case.
Q – How long will an appeals case take?
A – It depends. This is because some cases will take longer to review than others and, at any given time, the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) may have more (or less) appeals cases to review and resolve.
In general, however, the AAO strives to resolve appeals cases within six months of these cases being filed.
Q – What about a motion to reconsider? When should I opt for this instead of appealing USCIS decisions or filing a motion to reopen my case?
A – While the specific issues associated with your case will determine when it may be a better idea to file an appeal, a motion to reconsider or a motion to reopen, in general, pursuing a motion to reconsider is preferable when the official who made the decision in an immigration case failed to consider specific legal arguments or applicable laws.
With motions to reconsider:
- Any “pertinent precedent decisions to establish that the decision was based on an incorrect application of law or
[USCIS] policy” will be necessary (per 8 CFR 103.5(a)(3)).
- New evidence in the case will NOT be considered. Only legal arguments will be reviewed.
Because there is a lot riding on appealing USCIS decisions – and because filing appeals (or motions to reopen or reconsider) can be complicated, it’s critical to consult with the Hanlon Law Group, P.C. to ensure these cases proceed smoothly and are resolved as favorably as possible.
Los Angeles, California Immigration Lawyers at the Hanlon Law Group, P.C.
Do you need help appealing a USCIS decision or denial? If so, it’s time to contact theLos Angeles immigration attorneys at the Hanlon Law Group, P.C. For more than 15 years, our trusted lawyers have been successfully representing people in various types of immigration cases, including those that involve the most basic immigration applications to those associated with extremely complicated federal court litigation.
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