How to Appeal a Denied I-129 Petition

If your employment-based immigration application was denied, you - or your employer - may be able to appeal. Here's how it works.

If you are the beneficiary of an I-129 Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker that has been denied by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), your employer will generally have the right to appeal that decision.

Reviewing the Notice of Denial

Before considering an appeal, it is important for your employer to analyze the basis for the denial of the I-129 petition. This will be outlined in the notice of denial issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This step is important because the employer must feel certain that the decision is one that should, and can be reversed. It may also turn out that the basis for the denial is one that can be resolved through alternative measures that do not require the filing of an appeal.

Notice of Appeal or Motion

If your employer believes that the decision is reversible and chooses to file an appeal, it must prepare and submit Form I-290B Notice of Appeal or Motion. The notice of denial will usually include this form as an attachment. Form I-290B provides the following options for a denied I-129 petition:

  • Filing an appeal with the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO).
  • Filing a motion to reconsider the USCIS decision; or
  • Filing a motion to reopen the USCIS decision.

If your employer is choosing to file an appeal, it is important that it indicate this in part two of Form I-290B, which requests information about the appeal or motion. Regardless of which option it selects, the employer must complete Form I-290B in its entirety and submit it with a filing fee ($675 in 2017; this fee is subject to change).

For instruction and answers to common questions on the appeal form, see Appealing Immigration Decisions With Form I-290B - FAQ.

Filing the Appeal

Form I-290B must be prepared and filed by the employer, based on the fact that the I-129 petition was also filed by the employer, meaning that only the employer has the right to appeal its denial.

Part one of the form asks for information about the petitioner (employer), as well as the attorney if the employer has legal representation. Part three of the form requires a statement from the employer about why the USCIS decision was made in error and should be reversed.

The employer will have the option to submit a legal brief and/or additional evidence that supports its argument. These documents can be submitted with Form I-290B as an attachment, or within 30 days after the appeal is filed.

It is a good idea to take advantage of this option, as a brief lets the employer present a more complete argument for the reversal, and additional evidence (if available) will be more persuasive than a statement on its own. The employer can also request oral argument before the AAO. A letter explaining why an oral argument is necessary will have to be attached to Form I-290B at the time of filing. An oral argument should be requested only if the employer’s argument cannot be adequately addressed in writing. The AAO has complete discretion to grant or deny this request.

Once the I-290B appeal is completed, it must be submitted to the appropriate USCIS lockbox. Always check the USCIS website for the filing location, as it is subject to change.

What Happens After the Appeal Is Filed?

After the I-290B appeal is filed, USCIS will issue a receipt notice, containing a case number. This number is important -- it can be used when making future inquiries about the status of the appeal. The AAO will make an effort to reach a decision on an appeal within six months of receipt.

It is important to know that filing an appeal does not prevent an immigrant from accruing unlawful presence in the United States -- a ground of inadmissibility that can prevent (or seriously delay) future approvals for visas or green cards. You will need to make sure that you understand your legal rights and responsibilities, including the bar to reentry, if you accumulate too much unlawful presence.

Talk to a Lawyer

Need a lawyer? Start here.

How It Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you
NOLODRUPAL-web1:DRU1.6.12.2.20161011.41205