The Administrative Appeals Office (or AAO) is the body to which an alien appeals an immigration decision. If an alien’s petition or application is denied or revoked by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), the alien can appeal that decision to an AAO. If your application or petition is denied, you will be:

  • Advised of your right to an appeal
  • Informed of the proper appellate jurisdiction (AAO or the Board of Immigration Appeals)
  • Provided with the appropriate appeal form and time limit

The AAO handles the appeals of about 40 different petitions and/or applications. After hearing your case, AAO has the option of:

  • Agreeing with you and changing the original decision
  • Disagreeing with you and affirming the original decision
  • Sending your case back to the original office

What Should I Remember When I Appeal?

If you wish to appeal a decision, remember that there are strict deadlines. If you do not meet these deadlines, you will not be able to file an appeal. Also remember to include the correct fee and file your appeal at the office that made the original decision. In support of your appeal, you may file a brief (or an explanation) as well. Besides an appeal, remember that you can also file a motion to reopen or a motion to reconsider with the office that made the decision:

  • Motion to reopen – You must state the new facts that will be introduced and you must provide affidavits or other documentation.
  • Motion to reconsider – You must establish that the original decision was based on an incorrect application of law or USCIS policy. You must also establish that the decision was wrong based on the evidence existing at that time.

These two motions must be filed within 30 days of the original decision.

Who Can Appeal a Decision?

The person who submitted the application or petition may file an appeal. Only the petitioner may appeal. An employer who petitions for an alien worker must also file the appeal if the original application is denied. The person filing the appeal may have a lawyer accompany him by filing Form G-28 (Notice of Entry or Appearance as Attorney or Representative).

How Can I Appeal?

Review Form I-292 or the notice of denial that came with the adverse decision. From this, you can determine whether the denial of your petition can be appealed. You will be told where you can bring your appeal and you will be provided with the proper form. When you should file depends on your situation:

  • You must file your notice of appeal within 30 days of the decision
  • If the decision is mailed to you, you must file within 33 days of the date of the decision
  • If an approved immigrant petition has been revoked, you have 15 days of the date of the decision to file your appeal (18 if the decision was mailed to you)

You must file Form I-290B (Notice of Appeal to the Administrative Appeal Office) if the Administrative Appeals Office has jurisdiction. Follow the requirements and include a brief (an explanation) and include any required fees.

Do I Need an Experienced Immigration Law Attorney?

A lawyer would be able to guide you through the various immigration laws that you may encounter. You may also be able to hire a immigration lawyer to represent you during an appeal. The lawyer can explain your options to you and what the procedures will be.