An appeal from the immigration judge’s decision must be filed at the Board of Immigration Appeals. This must be done within 30 days of the decision of the immigration judge. There are no exceptions. If you do not file the Notice of Appeal within 30 days, the decision of the judge becomes final and nothing more can be done except in unusual circumstances.

During an appeal, the most important thing a deportation attorney can do, besides attempting to convince the Board that the immigration judge was wrong, is to continue to preserve any issues of fact and/or law for the record so that if your deportation matter is appealed the circuit court of appeals, your immigration attorney can attempt to distinguish your case from previous cases and, thus, obtain a reversal.

The board of judges convenes in Falls Church, Virginia, outside of the nation’s capital in Washington, D.C. These judges are employees of the U.S. Attorney General, so that a decision from this board is, similar to the decision of an immigration judge, an agency decision. In light of the relationship of the board to the Attorney General, it is less likely to reverse a decision of an immigration judge than a Circuit Court of Appeals.

Circuit Courts of Appeals

In this appeal, you are able to bring the case to the attention of judges who are not employees of the U.S. Attorney General. These judges have lifetime appointments to the court and, thus, they are less likely to be swayed by politics and be indebted to anyone in the government. An appeal to this tribunal must be filed within 30 days of the Board’s decision. The record is usually filed by the government within 40 days of the filing of the notice of appeal, unless the government requests an extension. In this appeal, you can expect it to take anywhere from 8 months to 1 ½ years, if you are not detained, and a much shorter period of time if you are detained.

United States Supreme Court

An appeal to this Court is an option, but it is not your right. In other words, the Supreme Court takes cases at its discretion and may reject your case since it may think that it does not carry enough importance. The main factor which the Supreme Court considers in an immigration case is whether if enough circuit courts have decided the same or similar issue and decided it differently, thus requiring a decision that is uniform throughout the country.