Summary Dismissal and Your Immigration Case

If your immigration application or petition has been denied, you may want to appeal your case. When you appeal, you ask a higher court to review the decision of the lower court. If the higher court finds an error in how the law was interpreted and applied or in how legal procedures were followed, then the higher court may change the original decision in your case.

However, there are instances where you might appeal an immigration case to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) and learn that the board has summarily dismissed your appeal. When a summary dismissal occurs, the BIA refuses to consider the case, and the original decision remains.

Summary dismissal often occurs if there is a mistake made in the process of the appeal, so it makes sense to work with an experienced immigration attorney, and to pay attention to deadlines and details.

Reasons for Summary Dismissal

A Board of Immigration Appeals board member has the right to dismiss an appeal, or a portion of an appeal, for a variety of reasons. Among the reasons that an appeal would be dismissed:

  • No reason for the appeal is specified on the Notice of Appeal form
  • The facts or the law don't support the argument for appeal
  • A brief or other supporting documents have not been submitted
  • The BIA lacks jurisdiction or authority to take any action in the case
  • You are trying to appeal a decision regarding a fact or legal conclusion that you'd already agreed to at an earlier point in time
  • The appeal was not submitted within the specified period of time (usually 30 days from the date the denial was received)
  • You're appealing something that you've already been given (in other words, if the original ruling was already in your favor)
  • The laws applicable to your case don't allow for an appeal
  • The BIA believes that an appeal was filed for an improper purpose (for example, if the BIA believes that an appeal was filed for no other reason than to postpone deportation)

Questions for Your Attorney

Before filing an appeal in your immigration case, consider hiring a lawyer who's experienced in handling immigration appeals. There are serious consequences to immigration decisions, and it makes sense to hire an attorney who's knowledgeable about the agencies involved, along with the laws and administrative rules that apply to your case.

Among the questions to consider asking your attorney:

  • How much experience do you have handling immigration cases?
  • Have you previously handled an immigration case similar to mine?
  • How much experience do you have working with the agency responsible for my case?
  • How much do you charge for your services?
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