The most important part of a BIA Appeal is the brief.  Every appeal needs a brief – there just aren’t any exceptions.  If a brief isn’t necessary, then why are you filing an appeal?  The brief is the only method for advising the Board of the reasons for your appeal.  And if you do not tell the BIA about an issue in your brief, the BIA does not have to consider it, and you usually cannot raise that issue if you have to take the case to the Court of Appeals. If you have been advised that a brief is not necessary, get a second opinion.  As the Board says in its practice manual:

“A well-written brief is in any party‚Äôs best interest and is therefore of great importance to the Board.  The brief should be clear, concise, well-organized, and should cite the record and legal authorities fully, fairly, and accurately.”

Knowing the BIA Practice Manual will help you write a better brief.  The Board has given a wealth of advice about the best way to tell it about your appeal.  For example, the BIA suggests your brief not exceed 25 pages (although a complicated case usually will). Effective brief-writing also requires knowing the law – a persuasive brief begins and ends with being able to persuade the BIA member that your legal theory is consistent with the law governing the Board.  You must know well the Board’s history and practice, its past decisions, and the circuit court decisions that control the facts in your case.  An effective brief must also include a persuasive but accurate recitation of the facts.

The BIA has provided a helpful outline for what a brief should include. See Ch. 4, p. 58.  This includes:

  • a concise statement of facts and procedural history of the case
  • a statement of issues presented for review
  • the standard of review
  • a summary of the argument
  • the argument
  • a short conclusion stating the precise relief or remedy sought
I structure my briefs exactly like that with sections entitled “Statement of Facts and Procedural History,” “Statement of the Issues,” etc. In addition to setting out the facts in text, the BIA actually encourages you to use “charts or similar graphic representations” if it helps you make your point.  Above all else, not filing a brief at all will get your case dismissed.