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U.S. Immigration Law Research Starting Points: Practice Manuals & Decisions

Guide created for Brooklyn Law School's Safe Harbor Project

Practice Manuals

Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) Practice Manual

This chart shows which types of appeals of denied petitions are subject to AAO's jurisdiction, including an appeal of a denied Petition for Spouse or Child under VAWA. 

EOIR Policy Manual includes Part II OCIJ Practice Manual (= Immigration Court Practice Manual).

EOIR Policy Manual includes Part III Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) Practice Manual & is useful to those who need to appeal an adverse immigration judge decision.

 

Other Tools To Find Decisions

$ Westlaw Edge: Asylum Case Law Sourcebook (Sept. 2020 update)

Subject-arranged federal court case abstracts re. asylum issues.  Abstracts link to texts of decisions.  Searchable.

Tips: Text & footnotes of legal treatises such as $ Lexis+: Immigration Law and Procedure + $ Westlaw Edge: Law of Asylum in the United States & Steel on Immigration Law discuss/link to key decisions. 

Law students who obtain free membership in AILA can access $ AILALink, which provides Kurzban's Immigration Law SourcebookKurzban's highlights many court and administrative decisions.  Asylum researchers can identify pertinent decisions through AILA's Asylum Primer: A Practical Guide to U.S. Asylum Law and Procedure.  AILA conference publications also highlight recent decisions.  Example: Immigration Practice Pointers (2020-21 ed.) includes "Hot Topics in Removal: Case Law Updates" & "Post-Matter of A–B– Particular Social Group Asylum Strategies."  See also guide section: Books. 

Decisions

U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) > Administrative Appeals Office (AAO):

Administrative Appeals

Links to AAO Decisions, grouped by non-precedent, precedent & "adopted" decisions.  This site explains that USCIS "occasionally 'adopts' an AAO non-precedent decision to provide policy guidance for USCIS personnel."

Full-text search page for AAO non-precedent decisions (from 2005-)

AAO precedent decisions are available as published in vols. 8-27 of I. & N. Dec.  This is a list of vols., not a searchable database.

"Adopted" AAO decisions from 2005- are available on the AAO Decisions page.

Links to an Appeals Resources page, which includes filing information, AAO-related regulations, and AAO-related policy memoranda.

U.S. Dep't. of Justice > Executive Office for Immigration Review > Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA):

AG/BIA Decisions Listing (accessible by volume # of I. & N. Dec. or by searching multiple indexes)

$ AILALink: Law students who obtain free membership in AILA can access $ AILALink & $ Fastcase Premium.

Tip for asylum law researchers: Log in to $ AILALink & click button: Documents @ top of screen.  Click menu option: Court and Admin Decisions > click: Asylum Cases by Topic.

To find decisions: Click: "search AILALink."  Researchers can "filter search" by menu option: Court and Admin Decisions

Search options include: Advanced Search (provides a template), Boolean Search (search sceen includes Search Syntax Guide noting that the multiple character wild card in $ AILALink = *, for example: persecut*) & Find a Case (by case name or cite).

$ Lexis+ > Practice Center > Immigration > box: Top Sources includes Case Law--Federal Courts + Administrative Agency Decisions.  Click either Case Law--Federal Courts or Administrative Agency Decisions to access narrower, searchable databases.

Narrower, searchable databases under Administrative Agency Decisions include:

U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services: Immigration Precedent Decisions AAO/AAU (1940-)

U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services: Immigration Non-Precedent Decisions AAO/AAU

U.S. Dep't. of Justice/Executive Office for Immigration Review/Board of Immigration Appeals: Immigration Precedent Decisions: BIA (1940-)

U.S. Dep't. of Justice/Executive Office for Immigration Review/Board of Immigration Appeals: Immigration Non-Precedent Decisions: BIA

U.S. Dep't. of Justice/Executive Office for Immigration Review: Office of Chief Admin. Hearing Officer Immigration Review Decisions (Mar. 11, 1988-)

Tip: to search 1 or more of these narrower databases from the Lexis+ > Practice Center > Immigration home screen search box, click the magnifying glass icon to the right of a database name, e.g., Immigration Precedent Decisions: BIA.  Then, a researcher will see the message: "Immigration Precedent Decisions: BIA added to filter."  Now, the researcher can search Immigration Precedent Decisions: BIA from the Lexis+ > Practice Center > Immigration home screen search box at the top of the page.

U.S. Dep't. of Labor/Board of Alien Labor Certification: Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals Decisions (Feb. 11, 1987-)

$ Westlaw Edge > Practice Area > Immigration > box: Immigration Resources includes: Cases + Administrative Decisions & Guidance.

Narrower, searchable databases under Administrative Decisions & Guidance include:

U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services: Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) Decisions (1989-)

U.S. Dep't. of Justice/Executive Office for Immigration Review/Board of Immigration Appeals: Board of Immigration Appeals Decisions (Aug. 1940-) provides BIA decisions + reviews of decisions by the U.S. Attorney General.

U.S. Dep't. of Justice/Executive Office for Immigration Review: Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer Decisions (Mar. 1988-)

U.S. Dep't. of Labor/Board of Alien Labor Certification: Decisions of the Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (Nov. 1987-)