Chapter 6. Contacting the Administrative Appeals Office

6.1       Contact Information

The Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) welcomes communication by telephone, fax, and mail.

Telephone(703) 224-4501An image

Fax(703) 778-7483An image

Mailing Address (regular and express service):

Do not mail appeals or motions directly to the AAO.  The correct filing addresses for appeals and motions are available at www.uscis.gov/i-290b-addresses.  Any appeals or motions mailed to the AAO will be returned and will not be considered properly filed.

The AAO’s mailing address, for briefs and other correspondence related to existing matters, is:

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
Administrative Appeals Office
20 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, MS 2090
Washington, D.C.  20529-2090

(a)      Inquiries about a Specific Case

The AAO will communicate with appellants[140] or their representatives who have submitted a properly completed and signed Form G-28. See Chapter 2 for more information about Form G-28 and representing parties before the AAO.

The AAO is generally unable to respond to case-specific inquiries from beneficiaries of a petition (or their representatives) because, unless otherwise instructed by USCIS and as specifically permitted by law, beneficiaries do not have legal standing in a proceeding.[141]

The AAO cannot give legal advice, discuss the merits of a case, or provide status information about matters that are not pending with the AAO.

(b)      Written Communications

Written communication about a specific case should contain as much of the following information as possible:

  • Full name of the appellant;
  • Any Alien Registration Number (A-Number) assigned to the case;
  • Receipt Number for the Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion, Form I-290C, Notice of Certification, or Form I-694, Notice of Appeal of Decision under Sections 245A or 210 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (the Act);[142]
  • Receipt Number and case type for the underlying application or petition before the AAO;
  • Name, address, telephone number, and fax number of the author; and
  • For written communications from representatives, a copy of the Form G-28, Notice of Entry of Appearance, submitted with the appeal or motion.

(c)      Telephone Communications

Callers should be prepared to provide the A-Number and Receipt Number of the pending case and to confirm information establishing the caller’s identity.  AAO personnel may not discuss a specific case by telephone if they cannot confirm the caller’s identity.

To protect confidentiality, the AAO does not provide information in response to case-specific telephone inquiries about the following types of cases:

  • Immigrant petitions for battered spouses, children, or parents under the Violence Against Women Act (Form I-360);
  • Petitions for U nonimmigrant status (Form I-918) and qualifying family members of a U-1 nonimmigrant (Form I-918A and Form I-929);
  • Applications for T nonimmigrant status (Form I-914) and immediate family members of a T-1 nonimmigrant (Form I-914A);
  • Adjustment of status applications (Form I-485) filed by individuals in U or T nonimmigrant status under section 245(l) or (m) of the Act;
  • Applications for Temporary Protected Status (Form I-821); and
  • Immigration benefit requests under the legalization provisions of sections 210 and 245A of the Act, and under section 1104 of the Legal Immigration Family Equity Act and its amendments.

Please inquire in writing about these case types.

6.2      Processing Times and Status Inquiries

The USCIS field office that issued the unfavorable decision will first conduct an “initial field review” of the appeal.  If that office does not take favorable action on the appeal, it will forward the appeal to the AAO and send the appellant a Notice of Transfer to the AAO.  The initial field review should be completed within 45 days.[143]

The processing times for appeals pending before the AAO are available on the AAO Processing Times webpage. The appellate review should be completed within six months or less from the date that the AAO received the appeal from the field office following the initial field review.

The AAO is unable to provide case status information on appeals awaiting initial field review.  Appellants may contact the USCIS Contact Center line at (800) 375-5283An image (the TTY number is (800) 767-1833An image) or submit an e-Request through the USCIS website to inquire about a case if, within 75 days of filing an appeal, USCIS has not sent any of the following:

  • An approval notice;
  • A Notice of Transfer to the AAO; or
  • Any other correspondence or action from the field office.

6.3      Requests for Expedited Processing

The AAO generally processes appeals in the order it receives them, but it will review expedite requests on a case-by-case basis.  To request expedited processing, the appellant must provide evidence that one or more of the following criteria have been met:

  • Severe financial loss to a company or individual;
  • An extreme emergent situation;
  • A humanitarian situation;
  • The nonprofit status of a requesting organization in furthering the cultural and social interests of the United States;
  • A Department of Defense or national interest situation.  The request must come from an official United States government entity and must state that a delay will be detrimental to the government;
  • A USCIS handling error created an unreasonable delay that may be fixed by placing the case back in its original order; or
  • A compelling interest of USCIS.

To request expedited processing, please mail or fax a written request to the AAO.  The cover letter should clearly say “EXPEDITE REQUEST,” and the request should include documentary evidence to support the claimed need for expedited processing.

6.4      Notification of Address Change

Most non-U.S. citizens must report a change of address within 10 days of moving within the United States or its territories.  For more information about change of address requirements, please visit the USCIS Change of Address Information webpage.

While a case is pending with the AAO, appellants and their representatives should also notify the AAO directly of any address change to ensure that all decisions and correspondence are sent to the correct address.  Due to AAO record retention and privacy obligations, representatives should submit an individual change of address notification for each case before the AAO.

Change of address notifications should be sent to the AAO by fax or mail.  No special form is required. A change of address notice should state the type of application or petition that is the subject of the appeal or motion, and reference any relevant Receipt Numbers and A-Numbers.

6.5      Requests for Oral Argument

The AAO generally adjudicates decisions based on the record of proceedings without oral argument.  However, the AAO may grant a written request for oral argument where a case involves an issue of particular significance and the AAO determines that it would benefit from supplemental argument.  Oral argument is granted at the discretion of the AAO.[144]

Appellants must request oral argument in writing either at the time they file the appeal or motion, or at the time they file a supporting brief.  The request must explain in writing specifically why oral argument is necessary.[145]
     
If the AAO approves a request, it will notify the appellant of the time, date, place, and conditions of the oral argument.[146]  If the AAO denies a request for oral argument, it will notify the appellant in the AAO’s written disposition of the appeal, motion, or certification.

6.6      FOIA Requests for a Copy of the Record of Proceeding

An appellant may obtain a copy of the record of proceedings through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.  For information on how to make a FOIA request, please visit the USCIS FOIA webpage.

The AAO generally will not take action on a case while a FOIA request is pending.  However, filing a FOIA request does not extend timeframes, such as deadlines for filing appeals or motions, responding to requests for additional evidence or notices of intent to dismiss, or submitting briefs or supplemental evidence.

Footnotes


[140] [^] For simplicity, this Practice Manual refers to all persons or entities with legal standing in a proceeding as “appellants.”

[141] [^] 8 C.F.R. §§ 103.2(a)(3), 103.3(a)(1)(iii)(B). See Chapter 3.7(a) for more information about persons or entities with legal standing in a proceeding.

[142] [^] A Receipt Number is an inventory control number assigned to a case by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).  Receipt Numbers generally start with three letters (e.g., EAC, LIN, MSC, NBC, SRC, or WAC) and then have a series of numbers.  Receipt Numbers are located on the USCIS-issued notice for the case.

[143] [^] See 8 C.F.R. § 103.3(a)(2)(iii).  For more information about initial field review, see USCIS Policy Memorandum PM-602-0124, Initial Field Review of Appeals to the Administrative Appeals Office (PDF, 115 KB)(Nov. 4, 2015).

[144] [^] 8 C.F.R. § 103.3(b)(2).

[145] [^] 8 C.F.R. § 103.3(b)(1).

[146] [^] 8 C.F.R. § 103.3(b)(2).

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