Administrative Appeals Office

Deportation Defense & Appeals


Given the complicated procedures that sometimes come about as the result of the immigration process, it’s possible that some cases may have some legal grounds for filing an appeal. Petitioners and applicants for certain immigration benefits may file an appeal with the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) to attempt to overturn an unfavorable decision made by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officers.

When U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) makes an unfavorable decision on your immigration case, you can file an appeal with the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO).

What Is the Administrative Appeals Office?

The AAO reviews applications for specific categories of immigration benefits. This office ensures consistency and accuracy in interpreting and applying immigration law and policy through administrative review. Laws and policies vary per case because of the different facts that apply. The office handles over 50 different types of applications, so it’s important to have a legal expert by your side to describe the facts of your appeal.

What Is an Appeal?

An appeal is your chance to convince the AAO that the USCIS made the wrong decision in your immigration case. Filing an appeal involves filling out and submitting Form I-290B, the Notice of Appeal or Motion. You submit this legal document when you face any of the 50+ types of immigration cases the AAO handles.

Filing this document is obligatory for any appeal you make. You can file an appeal within 30 days of USCIS’ decision on your case. Your case will be closed once that time lapses, and you must accept the denial.

Is an Appeal and a Motion the Same?

No. Appeals and motions are different actions, but Form I-290B covers them both.

  1. Appeal: You would file this petition directly to a higher authority in the AAO. Generally, the AAO ranks higher than the office that decided on your immigration case. Therefore, you must prepare your evidence when filing your appeal.
  2. Motion to Reopen: You would file a motion to reopen a case if you obtained new facts and evidence demonstrating eligibility the requested immigration benefit at the time the application or petition was filed.
  3. Motion to Reconsider: You would file a motion to reconsider if you believe the decision was based on an incorrect application of law or policy, and that the decision was incorrect based on the evidence in the case when the decision was issued.

Appeals and motions are completely different approaches to resolving your case. If you remain confused about which option is best, consider getting an immigration attorney’s input. These legal experts can review your case to determine your next steps.

Why Would I Need to File an Appeal or Motion?

You typically must appeal or file a motion to overturn the USCIS’ decision on your immigration case. Filing a successful appeal or motion can secure your legal presence in the country.

What Kinds of Cases Does the AAO Handle?

Not all cases can be appealed. You can find a complete list of the AAO’s jurisdiction and types of cases on its website. Generally, categories include:

  • Alien Entrepreneur Petitions: You can file an appeal as an immigrant investor who wants to enter the U.S. for business.
  • Temporary Protected Status: You can appeal for protection from deportation in light of ongoing conflict or disaster.
  • Grounds of Inadmissibility Waiver: You can apply to waive the grounds for your inadmissibility to the United States, whether it’s due to a criminal conviction, fraud, etc.
  • Fiancé Petitions: You can appeal for your alien fiancé’s entry to the United States.
  • Readmission After Deportation: You can apply for permission to reapply for admission after getting deported.
  • Residence Preservation Applications: You can file an appeal to preserve your residence for naturalization purposes.
  • Orphan Petitions: You can file a petition to the USCIS to classify an orphan as an immediate relative.
  • Status Adjustment Applications: You can appeal certain T and U visa applications and petitions associated with adjusting your visa status.
  • ICE Determinations: You can appeal an ICE determination that you have breached a surety bond.

How Do I File an Appeal or Motion With the AAO?

You can file an appeal or motion with the AAO by following their instructions. The office also provided a list of direct filing addresses for Form I-290B, maintaining that you must not file the form directly with the AAO.

However, it offers some tips for filing an appeal or motion:

  • File a separate Form I-290B for each appeal.
  • Complete all sections that apply to you.
  • Sign your form.
  • Submit your form within 30 days of receiving the USCIS’ decision — or 33 days if the USCIS mailed the decision to you.

Next Steps

You can still turn your immigration case status in your favor by appealing with the Administrative Appeals Office. This office is in charge of reviewing your case when you have evidence in your favor regarding your immigration status.

However, filing an appeal with the AAO may involve filing multiple forms, including the mandatory Form I-290B. While you can file an appeal yourself, each form involves comprehensive processes. Consider getting a seasoned attorney at Reeves Immigration Law Group to review your situation.


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