The Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) is a federal agency that is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).  The AAO is responsible for reviewing many different types of decisions made by U.S.  Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS).  

Some of the more common examples of the types of decisions that the AAO may review include the following: 

• Application for Certification of Citizenship (Form N-600)  
• Application for Issuance of Reentry Permits (Form 1-131) 
• Application for Temporary Protected Status (Form 1-821) 
• Certification of the Denial of Any Petition by a USCIS Office 
• Employment-Based Immigrant Visa, Special Immigrant, and Entrepreneur (Form 1-140)
• Petition for Nonimmigrant Temporary Workers, Trainees, Fiancees (Form 1-129)
• Petition for R-1 Nonimmigrant Religious Workers (Form 1-129)
• Petition for Special Immigrant Juvenile (Form 1-360)
• Petition for Spouse or Child under VAWA (Form 1-360)
• Revocation of Nonimmigrant Petition (Form 1-129)
• Waivers of lnadmissability under 212(g),(h) or (i) of the Act (Form 1-601)
• Waivers of Two-Year Foreign Residence Requirement under 212(e) (Form 1-612)

The AAO generally conducts a "de novo" review of the particular appeal, which means that the AAO acts as if it is considering the issue on appeal for the first time without giving deference to the decision below.

When an applicant or petitioner appeals a decision to the AAO, the USCIS officer who made the original decision will generally first review the record to determine whether the argument in the appeal warrants reopening or reconsidering the decision.  If not, the adjudicating officer will forward the case for further review to the AAO.

Most appeals are filed on Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion, although there are some exceptions.  An appeal of a decision on an N-400 Application for Naturalization is made on Form N-336.  Appeals of decisions on an I-130 Petition for Alien Relative likewise have particular forms required. The particular denial notice received should specify the necessary form to use to appeal the decision, along with additional information about the deadline, fee, and filing location.   

The process of appealing a negative decision by USCIS can be very complicated and subject to strict deadlines and rules.  It is extremely important to consult with an experienced immigration attorney as early on in the process as possible.  The attorneys at Wilson Law Group have extensive experience litigating matters before the AAO.  We look forward to hearing from you regarding your particular matter to develop a particularized strategy.