Every appeal is different and each appeal may take more or less time due to a number of unique factors. But the Board’s recent statistics give us a pretty good picture. In its 2012 report, the Office of Inspector General Report said that the Board takes on average “more than 16 months to render decisions on cases involving non-detained aliens, as compared to 3½ months for cases involving detained aliens.”
The 3½ figure is a bit surprising. My detained appeals have been taking something more like 5 to 9 months lately. We usually write a long brief and raise every issue we possibly can (which might account for the time), but 3 to 9 months is a good guess.
In non-detained appeals, the 16-month figure is a bit misleading too. I have several appeals now at the Board that have been there for over two years. I have also received several decisions this year after a very brief amount of time (usually in cases where the Board remanded for procedural issue, like the IJ failing to advise my client about certain rights during the hearing).
I’ve also noticed that asylum appeals tend to take longer, as they are often more fact-intensive and rely on reviewing in depth the immigrant’s testimony. An appeal of a criminal issue is often easier to sort out, because testimony might not matter much – the BIA normally looks at the statute, looks at the conviction record, and decides de novo whether the conviction triggers removability.