Board of Immigration Appeals
The Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”) is the part of the Executive Office for Immigration Review that reviews the decisions of the Immigration Courts and some decisions of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. It is an administrative appellate body that is part of the U.S. Department of Justice. BIA decisions are the final administrative action in a given case. The next stage of appeal after a BIA decision is usually in the U.S. Court of Appeals, if an appeal is allowed by statute.
The BIA is notable in that you 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 April 2009 has 14 Board Members, who are administrative judges appointed by the U.S. Attorney General. The size of the full BIA varies from time to time, depending on resignations, retirements and new appointments; it may have up to 15 Board Members under the current authorizing legislation. However, following the practice of appellate courts, many decisions of the BIA are by panels that are composed of only a few Board Members.