The BIA Pro Bono Appeals Project matches vulnerable immigrants with pro bono counsel to defend their cases before the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). One of the nation's most successful pro bono initiatives, the BIA Project partners with attorneys and law school clinics to provide pro bono legal representation to indigent immigrants. Through a network of committed volunteers, trainers, and mentors, the BIA Project facilitates access to justice, a critical component to safeguarding the rights of vulnerable asylum-seekers and long time lawful permanent residents. Since the Project’s inception in 2001, it has reviewed over 7,200 appeals cases. The Project's cases regularly result in significant decisions, including favorable, published BIA decisions, as well as Federal and Supreme Court decisions. In a published study, the Department of Justice found that immigrants who had been provided representation through the Project were up to four times more likely to win a favorable decision before the BIA.

Project Frequency

Regular Commitment, but Less Frequent than Monthly

Project Time Commitment

After a case is assigned to you, CLINIC will get consent from the respondent, which can take a week or two. Once you receive the consent packet, you will file your entry of appearance (Form EOIR-27) with the Board. Once the Board receives the EOIR-27, it will send you a full copy of the record of proceedings. This is unique to our project and will not happen with other Board appeals. Normally you would have to do a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request, or dig up the information yourself, so receiving a copy of the record is one significant advantage of participating in our project, rather than doing a Board appeal on your own. The Board will also send you a briefing schedule, typically set 3 weeks from the time your EOIR-27 was received. You have the option of filing for an extension, which the Board will always grant. If it does not, let us know and we will intervene to get the extension. The extension is for an additional 3 weeks, so you will have a total of 6 weeks to write the brief, if you request the extension. We will send you a sample extension request. Next, you write your brief. The Board prefers concise briefs that are about 15-20 pages long. You file one copy with the Board and send one to the opposing counsel (DHS). Other than keeping in touch with CLINIC and updating the respondent, that’s all there is to it. The good thing about our project is that the timing is predictable. It will take CLINIC a week or two to get consent from the Respondent. You would then file the E-27. Within a week or so, the Board will send you the record of proceeding and a new briefing schedule. You have three weeks to write the brief, and an additional three weeks if you request an extension. Therefore, you should be done with your part within 2-3 months.

Project Location

Remote Electronic (service completed by phone or internet)

Area of Law

  • Immigration

Geographic Areas

  • Remote

Project For

  • Attorney

Population Served

  • Immigrants

Skills to be Developed

  • Appellate Advocacy
  • Legal Research and Writing
  • Training Provided for Project Volunteers
  • Volunteers Who Speak an Additional Language Requested for this Project
  • Malpractice Insurance Provided for this Project
  • Mentorship Provided for this Project