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Administrative Appeals with the USCIS

In most cases, petitioners and visa applicants whose petitions or applications are denied or revoked may appeal that decision to the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO), a division of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). The AAO has jurisdiction over 40 types of petitions and applications, while the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) has the highest authority over immigration cases.

Information about your right to appeal a decision by the USCIS, along with the appropriate form and time limit, will be provided with your denial or revocation notice.

Overview of the Administrative Appeals Process

Administrative appeals must be filed at the office that made the original decision (with the correct fee) and are subject to strict deadlines. You may also file a written explanation (or "brief") of your situation and reason for appeal but it is not mandatory. The appellate authority will take one of the following actions after reviewing your request for an appeal:

  1. Agree with your appeal, thus changing the original decision
  2. Disagree with your appeal, affirming the original decision
  3. Send the case back to the original office for review

While filing an administrative appeal with USCIS affords the opportunity for review by a higher authority, you also may file a motion to reopen or reconsider your case with the office that made the original decision. Such motions, which ask the office to reconsider or at least reexamine its decision, must state new facts that were not provided or available before. Applicants have 30 days from the original decision date in which to file a motion to reopen or reconsider.

Who May File an Administrative Appeal?

Only the petitioner--the actual person who submitted the petition or application--may file an appeal. This means the beneficiary of a visa petition lacks legal standing to file such an appeal. For example, a woman who would be the beneficiary of her spouse's visa petition on her behalf may not file an appeal if the petition is denied, only the spouse who filed the original documentation may file.

If the petitioner chooses to have legal representation, they must also file a Notice of Entry or Appearance as Attorney or Representative (Form G-28) along with the appeal notice.

How Do I File an Administrative Appeal?

First, review the notice of denial (Form I-292) that was sent with your original decision notice, which will include the proper form and indicate the proper jurisdiction for your appeal. Also take note of the following time limits:

  • 30 days from the decision date for most cases
  • 33 days from the decision date if it was received by mail
  • 15 days from the decision date to appeal the revocation of an approved immigrant petition (18 days if original decision was received by mail)

To file your notice of appeal with the Administrative Appeals Office--assuming it has jurisdiction over the decision--you must use a Notice of Appeal to the Administrative Appeal Office (Form I-290B). File the appeal with the office that made the adverse decision, including the fee and a written explanation in support of the appeal (optional).

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