The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) is an administrative appellate body within the Executive Office for Immigration Review of the United States Department of Justice responsible for reviewing decisions of the U.S. immigration courts and certain actions of U.S. Citizenship Immigration Services, U.S Customs and Border Protection, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The BIA was established in 1940 after the Immigration and Naturalization Service was transferred from the United States Department of Labor to the Department of Justice.
|Jurisdiction||Federal government of the United States|
|Headquarters||Falls Church, Virginia|
|Parent agency||Executive Office for Immigration Review, Department of Justice|
|Website||Board of Immigration Appeals|
The Board of Immigration Appeals traces its origins to the Immigration Act of 1891, which was the first comprehensive federal law that governed the immigration system. The Act established an Office of Immigration within the Department of the Treasury, which would be supervised by a Superintendent of Immigration and responsible for handling immigration functions. The Act also laid out an appeals process where immigrants could appeal the Office's decisions to the Superintendent of Immigration.
Two years later, the Immigration Act of 1893 established three-member Boards of Special Inquiry to decide challenges to decisions of the Office of Immigration that deported or excluded an immigrant seeking to enter the United States.
Congress continued to adjust the immigration system over the coming decades. In 1903, Congress moved immigration functions from the Treasury to the newly-created Department of Commerce and Labor. Ten years later, Congress split the Department of Commerce and Labor into a Department of Commerce and a Department of Labor, and assigned responsibility for the immigration system to the latter.
In 1917, Congress passed the Immigration Act of 1917 that reformed the provisions governing the exclusion and deportation of immigrants.
The Immigration Act of 1921 established a new system of national quotas that limited the number of immigrants from any given country. These reforms significantly increased the number of administrative appeals filed by immigrants and the complexity of each case. The Secretary of Labor established a Board of Review to handle the increased caseload and recommend decisions.
In 1940, President Roosevelt moved the INS to the Department of Justice. The Attorney General replaced the Board of Review with a new Board of Immigration Appeals authorized to decide appeals itself, instead of recommending decisions. The BIA was given significant independence and remains responsible solely to the Attorney General.
In 1952, Congress replaced the complex network of immigration laws with a single statute, titled the Immigration and Nationality Act. Among other things, the statue eliminated the archaic Special Inquiry Boards and gave responsibility for reviewing deportation cases to new special inquiry officers. The role of special inquiry officers was further formalized in 1973, when a new regulation renamed them "immigration judges" and granted them the power to wear judicial robes.
In 1983, the Attorney General established the Executive Office for Immigration Review to administer the immigration courts. Immigration judges and the BIA were moved to the EOIR. A new Office of the Chief Immigration Judge was established to supervise the work of immigration judges and immigration courts. The BIA retained its power to decide immigration appeals and establish precedents.
Congress passed significant immigration reforms over the next few years. The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 and related regulations gave EOIR authority to decide cases related to immigration-related employment issues. The Immigration Act of 1990 expanded EOIR's powers to review cases of "document abuse," or misuse of documentation to prove employment eligibility. The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 replaced deportation proceedings and exclusion proceedings with "removal proceedings" and simplified procedures.
The Homeland Security Act of 2002 further clarified EOIR's powers by formally separating it from the INS and codifying the Attorney General's supervisory authority. The Act also abolished the INS and transferred its functions to the newly-created Department of Homeland Security.
The BIA reviews the decisions of the U.S. immigration courts, some decisions of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and immigration violation arrests by U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. BIA decisions are the final administrative action in a given case, and the next stage of appeal after a BIA decision is usually in the United States courts of appeals if an appeal is allowed by statute.
Most opinions of the BIA are unpublished and do not apply outside of the cases in which they were issued. However, a limited number of BIA decisions are selected for publication in the Administrative Decisions under the Immigration and Nationality Laws of the United States. There are currently 28 volumes of administrative precedent decisions under the Immigration and Nationality laws encompassing decisions dating back to 1940. BIA precedent decisions are legally binding on all components of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). A precedent decision may be overruled by a published decision of the Attorney General, by a Federal court, by a subsequent BIA precedent decision, or by a change in the law.
The BIA is notable in that one need not be an attorney to appear before it representing a client. However, non-attorneys must be part of a BIA-recognized organization (generally a nonprofit), and also have obtained BIA accreditation as individuals. A practice manual for appearing before the BIA is available from the U.S. Department of Justice.
The BIA is located in Falls Church, Virginia, and, as of February 2021, has 23 board members, who are administrative judges appointed by the U.S. Attorney General, and six temporary members. The size of the full BIA varies from time to time, depending on resignations, retirements, and new appointments; it may have up to 23 board members under the current authorizing regulation. Decisions issued by the BIA are by three-member panels in limited circumstances. Otherwise, the vast majority of cases are decided by single panel members. In certain circumstances, a single panel member can use a process called summary affirmance to affirm the lower court without issuing a written decision.
As of November 5, 2021:
|Title||Name||Term began||Appointed by|
|Chief Appellate Immigration Judge||David H. Wetmore||May 2020||William Barr|
|Deputy Chief Appellate Immigration Judge||Charles Adkins-Blanch||January 2013||Eric Holder|
|Deputy Chief Appellate Immigration Judge||Garry D. Malphrus||September 2020||William Barr|
|Appellate Immigration Judge||Michael P. Baird||August 2020||William Barr|
|Appellate Immigration Judge||William A. Cassidy||August 2019||William Barr|
|Appellate Immigration Judge||V. Stuart Couch||August 2019||William Barr|
|Appellate Immigration Judge||Michael J. Creppy||February 2011||Eric Holder|
|Appellate Immigration Judge||Deborah K. Goodwin||August 2019||William Barr|
|Appellate Immigration Judge||Stephanie E. Gorman||August 2019||William Barr|
|Appellate Immigration Judge||Edward R. Grant||January 1998||Janet Reno|
|Appellate Immigration Judge||Anne J. Greer||August 2008||Michael Mukasey|
|Appellate Immigration Judge||Keith E. Hunsucker||August 2019||William Barr|
|Appellate Immigration Judge||Ellen Liebowitz||February 2016||Loretta Lynch|
|Appellate Immigration Judge||Sunita B. Mahtabfar||August 2020||William Barr|
|Appellate Immigration Judge||Ana Landazabal Mann||November 2011||Eric Holder|
|Appellate Immigration Judge||Philip J. Montante, Jr.||April 2020||William Barr|
|Appellate Immigration Judge||Hugh Mullane||August 2008||Michael Mukasey|
|Appellate Immigration Judge||Blair O'Connor||February 2016||Loretta Lynch|
|Appellate Immigration Judge||Sirce E. Owen||August 2020||William Barr|
|Appellate Immigration Judge||Aaron R. Petty||April 2020||William Barr|
|Appellate Immigration Judge||Kevin W. Riley||April 2020||William Barr|
|Appellate Immigration Judge||Earle B. Wilson||August 2019||William Barr|
|Appellate Immigration Judge||Andrea Saenz||October 2021||Merrick Garland|
|Temporary Appellate Immigration Judge||Denise G. Brown||July 2021||Merrick Garland|
|Temporary Appellate Immigration Judge||Lisa de Cardona||May 2021||Merrick Garland|
|Temporary Appellate Immigration Judge||Gabriel Gonzalez||January 2021||Jeffrey Rosen|
|Temporary Appellate Immigration Judge||Beth Liebmann||January 2021||Jeffrey Rosen|