It’s usually a good idea to get legal advice when you’re facing a complicated legal issue, and Immigration appeals are no exception.  But the BIA allows individuals to be represented by several types of people (aside from themselves), including:

  • Attorneys; 
  • Reputable Individuals; 
  • Accredited Representatives; and
  • Accredited Officials;   

Accredited representatives are individuals who represent an organization  that has been accredited by the Board. An accredited representative should be able to show you proof that their organization is accredited, and you should ask to see it.

Accredited Officials are officials “of the government to which an alien owes allegiance, if the official appears solely in his official capacity and with the alien’s consent.” The BIA has never reported a case, published or unpublished, where the individual was represented by an “Accredited Official,” but it’s apparently allowed.

That leaves us with “Reputable Individuals.”  Oddly enough, you can select a “reputable individual” to represent you, and they don’t have to know anything about Immigration law.  Is that a good idea?  Who knows.  But here are the rules:

  1. They must be an individual who is “reputable” and of “good moral character.” 
  2. They must appear “on an individual case basis, at the request of the person entitled to representation.” 
  3. They must not be paid in any way, and they must “file a written declaration to that effect.” 
  4. They must have “a pre-existing relationship or connection with the person entitled to representation,” although this requirement can be waived; 
  5. They must be “permitted” by the officer “before whom he wished to appear,” but nobody will be permitted if they “regularly engage in immigration and naturalization practice or preparation.”
Whether Congress actually intended representation before the Immigration Courts and the Board to include representation by an individual who knows absolutely nothing about the law or Immigration seems doubtful to us.