In most cases, those looking to appeal an immigration decision will do so through the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO), Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) or, as a last resort, federal court. Since immigration is a function of the executive branch, the rules may differ from those imposed in an Arizona courtroom. Whether an appeal is made to the AAO or BIA depends on which agency made the original immigration decision.

For example, if an application was denied by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USICS), the AAO will likely hear the appeal. If the appeal relates to a ruling made in immigration court, it will typically be heard by the BIA. An immigration court ruling can be appealed either by the immigrant or the government. Regardless of which court hears the appeal, it must typically be made within 30 days from the date an application was denied or a ruling was made.

Furthermore, there will be a filing fee for cases heard by either the AAO or BIA. If a federal court has jurisdiction, an immigrant may appeal an AAO or BIA ruling to that court. A motion to reopen as well as a motion to reconsider could be filed after an immigration decision is made. While these are not technically appeals, they may be a pathway to having a ruling reversed at some point.

If an individual is seeking asylum or other forms of legal status, it might be necessary to speak with USICS or appear before a judge. An attorney could represent an immigrant during these and other steps in the immigration process. If a person’s request to obtain legal status is denied, legal counsel may help with an appeal. Having legal representation could make it easier to obtain a favorable outcome in a case.