Lawsuits to Fight Immigration Denials Can Still Be Filed After the Administrative Appeal Deadline

Administrative Procedures Act (APA) lawsuits to address immigration based denials must be based on a “final” agency action. If an administrative appeal is available, such as through the AAO or BALCA, filing the appeal is not necessary if the regulation or statute creating the appeal route is optional instead of mandatory. For instance, appealing a denial of a PERM is optional because the regulation suggests that the petitioner “may” appeal, and there’s no legal obligation to appeal to the BALCA. Even if a decision isn’t appealed on time, it can still be litigated in federal court under the APA. However, if you do choose to take an optional administrative appeal, the agency’s decision is no longer considered final until the appeal is resolved. During the appeal process, the court likely would determine it has no jurisdiction under the APA. APA lawsuits to contest denials are subject to a 6 year statute of limitations.