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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Appeals and Motions

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What is the difference between filing an appeal and a motion?

An appeal is a request that both the original deciding body and the Administrative Appeals Team (AAT), an independent entity, review the unfavorable decision and the school’s eligibility for certification. The appeals process is outlined in the General Appeals Process Information PDF available on Study in the States.

A motion on a Notice of Denial, Automatic Withdrawal or Withdrawal on Notice is a request for the original deciding body (i.e., SEVP Analysis and Operations Center (SAOC) and/or the SEVP School Certification Unit (SCU)) to review the unfavorable decision. A motion on a SCU and/or SAOC decision is not forwarded to AAT for adjudication. Instead the official who made the latest decision in the proceeding adjudicates the motion and reviews the case. Once the SCU and/or SAOC adjudicator completes their review, the SCU chief or SAOC chief reviews and signs the motion decision. Once signed, SCU and/or SAOC issues the motion decision to the petitioner via email.

A motion on an appeal decision is a request for the official who made the latest decision in the proceeding (i.e., the AAT adjudicator) to review the unfavorable decision. Once the AAT adjudicator has completed the review, an entity within ICE reviews the decision for legal and regulatory sufficiency. After the AAT adjudicator reviews the legal and regulatory comments, the Final Appeals Authority (FAA) reviews and signs the motion decision. Once the FAA signs the motion decision, the decision will be issued to the petitioner by AAT via email.

See 8 CFR 103.5(a)(1)(ii), 8 CFR 103.3(a)(2)(i)-(iv) and 8 CFR 214.3(e).

Do I always have the option to file an appeal or motion?

If a school receives a Notice of Denial, Automatic Withdrawal (AW), or Withdrawal on Notice (WON) from the School Certification Unit or the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) Analysis & Operations Center, the notice will include an explanation of the school’s right to file an appeal or a motion.

The rights to file a motion or appeal are as follows:

  • Notice of Denial – Initial Certification or Recertification: A petitioner has the right to file an appeal or may file a motion to reopen and/or reconsider.
  • Notice of Denial – Abandonment: A petitioner may file a motion to reopen.
  • Notice of Summary Denial of Recertification: A petitioner may file a motion to reopen.
  • AW: For most AWs, schools do not have the right to file an appeal. However, for an AW due to an alleged failure to timely report a change of ownership, a petitioner has the right to file an appeal or may file a motion to reopen and/or reconsider.
  • WON: A petitioner has the right to file an appeal or may file a motion to reopen and/or reconsider.

Petitioners may not file an appeal or motion and a new Form I-17, “Petition for Approval of School for Attendance of Nonimmigrant Student,” simultaneously.

If a petitioner files an appeal or motion after receiving a Notice of Denial of initial certification, a Notice of Summary Denial of Recertification or an AW, the petitioner may not file a new petition for certification until after the Administrative Appeals Team (AAT) issues a final decision on the appeal or motion. If a petitioner decides that it would prefer to file a new petition instead of continuing with the filed appeal or motion, the petitioner may withdraw its appeal or motion by submitting a written request via email to AAT.

If a petitioner files an appeal or motion after receiving a WON or a Notice of Summary Denial of Recertification, the petitioner may not file a new petition for certification until after AAT issues a decision on its appeal or motion. If a petitioner decides not to file a motion or appeal, or if the final decision is unfavorable, the petitioner is ineligible to re-petition for SEVP certification for at least one calendar year from the date of the issued WON or Notice of Summary Denial of Recertification decision. Additionally, eligibility to re-petition after the one year period is at the discretion of the SEVP director.

See 8 CFR 1.2, 8 CFR 103.2(b)(15), 8 CFR 103.3, 8 CFR 103.5, 8 CFR 214.4(a)(1)-(3), and 8 CFR 214.4(h).

What are the stages of the typical appeal process?

How do I file an appeal?

To file an appeal with the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), an individual with legal standing (e.g., the president, owner or head of the school, or a principal designated school official) or a designated attorney/accredited representative must complete a Form I-290B “Notice of Appeal or Motion,” in accordance with SEVP’s instructions and submit it to Administrative Appeals Team within the time frame specified in the denial or withdrawal. For information on how to properly complete a Form I-290B, refer to the Form I-290B instructions.

Petitioners must submit a statement regarding the basis for the appeal that specifically identifies an erroneous conclusion of law or fact in the decision being appealed. Failure to identify an erroneous conclusion of law or statement of fact will result in a summary dismissal. Submitting a brief and/or evidence with the Form I-290B is not required, but petitioners may submit a brief and/or evidence if they choose to do so.

Petitioners should submit their completed Form I-290B with the appeal statement and any brief and/or evidence electronically to Appeals.AdminTeam@ice.dhs.gov. All evidence and/or briefs must be submitted together at one time. Failure to submit a completed Form I-290B in a timely manner may result in the rejection of the appeal.

What information can I provide on appeal?

The Administrative Appeals Team thoroughly reviews all appeal submissions including all information and evidence provided. When determining what information and evidence to submit with your appeal, be aware that 8 CFR 103.3(a)(1)(v) requires that a petitioner specifically identify an erroneous conclusion of law or statement of fact in the decision being appealed. Additionally, petitioners should be aware that 8 CFR 103.2(b)(1) and 214.3(a)(3) require that all evidence submitted must establish a school’s eligibility for SEVP certification at the time of filing.

See 8 CFR 103.2(b)(1), 8 CFR 103.3(a)(1)(v) and 8 CFR 214.3(a)(3).

How do I file a motion?

The requirements for filing a motion depend on the type of motion a petitioner wishes to file.

General Motion Requirements

  • An affected party (e.g., the president, owner or head of the school, or a principal designated school official), or the attorney or representative of record must submit a signed Form I-290B, "Notice of Appeal or Motion," (via email to Appeals.AdminTeam@ice.dhs.gov) with a separate statement regarding the basis for the motion. For information on how to properly complete a Form I-290B, refer to the Form I-290B instructions.
  • The motion must also include a statement about whether the validity of the unfavorable decision has been, or is, the subject of any judicial proceeding. If the validity of the unfavorable decision is/was the subject of any judicial proceeding, the statement must include the court, nature, date and status or result of the proceeding.
  • Petitioner must file any motion to reopen and/or reconsider within the specified time frames. However, per 8 CFR 103.5(a)(1)(i), failure to file a motion to reopen before the regulatory deadline expires may be excused at the discretion of the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) if the petitioner can demonstrate the delay was reasonable and beyond the control of the petitioner.
  • The petitioner must address the motion to the official with jurisdiction. The official with jurisdiction is the person who made the latest decision in the proceedings and would be either:
    • The SEVP School Certification Unit (SCU) adjudicator.
    • The SEVP Analysis and Operations Center (SAOC) adjudicator.
    • The Administrative Appeals Team adjudicator if a motion is filed regarding an appeal decision.
  • Petitioners must submit their completed Form I-290B with the motion statement and any brief and/or evidence electronically to Appeals.AdminTeam@ice.dhs.gov. All evidence and/or briefs must be submitted together at one time.

See 8 CFR 1.2 and 8 CFR 103.5(a)(1)(i)-(iii) for more information.

Motion to Reopen Requirements

A motion to reopen must state the new facts to be provided in the reopened proceeding, and be supported by affidavits or other documentary evidence. If a petitioner chooses to file a motion to reopen, they must submit the Form I-290B and check the box for a motion to reopen (i.e., Part 3 Option 2d).

In the case of a denial or withdrawal due to abandonment (e.g., failure to respond to a Request for Evidence (RFE) or a Notice of Intent to Withdraw (NOIW) from SCU or SAOC within the time allowed) a motion to reopen may be filed if there is evidence illustrating the decision was in error for one of the following reasons:

  • The requested evidence was not material to the issue of eligibility.
  • The evidence requested by SEVP was submitted with the petition or RFE, or additional information was provided during the allotted period.
  • The SCU or SAOC RFE or NOIW went to an email address other than that on the application, petition or notice of representation. This also applies in cases where you advised SEVP in writing, electronically, of a change of email address or change of representation, but SEVP failed to send the RFE or NOIW to the new email address.

See 8 CFR 103.2(b)(15), 8 CFR 103.5(a)(1)(i)-(iii), 8 CFR 103.5(a)(2) and 8 CFR 214.4(d).

Motion to Reconsider Requirements

If a petitioner chooses to file a motion to reconsider, they must submit the Form I-290B, by checking the box for a motion to reconsider (i.e., Part 3 Option 2e), and ensure their motion meets the requirements:

  • States the reasons for reconsideration.
  • Supported by "any pertinent precedent decisions to establish that the decision was based on an incorrect application of law or [SEVP] policy".
  • Establishes the decision was incorrect based on the evidence of record at the time of that decision.

See 8 CFR 103.5(a)(1)(i)-(iii) and 8 CFR.103.5(a)(3).

Motion to Reopen and Reconsider Requirements

If a petitioner chooses to file a motion to reopen and reconsider, they must submit the Form I-290B and check the box for a motion to reopen and reconsider (i.e., Part 3 Option 2f) and ensure their motions meets all sets of requirements listed above.

What are the time frames for filing an appeal or motion?

The time frames for filing an appeal or motion differ, depending on the type of notice a school receives:

  • Notice of Denial – Initial Certification or Recertification: A petitioner must file an appeal or motion within 30 calendar days of the date that the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) issued the Notice of Denial.
  • Notice of Denial – Abandonment: A petitioner may file a motion to reopen within 30 calendar days of the date that SEVP issued the Notice of Denial.
  • Notice of Summary Denial of Recertification: A petitioner may file a motion to reopen within 30 calendar days of the date that SEVP issued the Notice of Summary Denial of Recertification.
  • Automatic Withdrawal (AW) – Change of Ownership: A petitioner may file a motion to reopen and/or reconsider the case within in 30 calendar days of the date SEVP issued the AW. If a school wants to appeal this decision, the petitioner must file within 15 calendar days of the date that SEVP issued the AW.
  • Withdrawal on Notice (WON): A petitioner may file a motion to reopen/reconsider the case within 30 days of the date SEVP issued the WON. If a school wants to appeal this decision, the petitioner must file within 15 calendar days of the date that SEVP issued the WON.

Petitioners may request an additional 30 calendar days (first extension) to submit a brief and/or evidence in support of an appeal by checking the appropriate box in Part 3 on the Form I-290B. If a petitioner needs more time beyond the first extension, they may submit a written request via email to the Administrative Appeals Team (AAT) for additional time (i.e., a second extension) to submit a brief and/or evidence. AAT may, for good cause shown, grant your request for a second extension.

Computing the Filing Time Period: When computing the period of time for filing an appeal or motion, SEVP counts every calendar day (including Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays) beginning with the first calendar day after the date SEVP served the unfavorable decision. If the last day of the filing period falls on a Saturday, Sunday or a legal holiday, the period to file an appeal or motion runs until the end of the next day which is not a Saturday, Sunday or legal holiday. See 5 USC 6103 for a listing of legal holidays.

Please note that an appeal not filed within the time allowed must be rejected as improperly filed. However, if an untimely appeal meets the requirements of a motion to reopen or a motion to reconsider as set forth in 8 CFR 103.5, the unit within SEVP that made the unfavorable decision must treat the untimely appeal as a motion, and make a new decision on the merits of the case.

Who may file an appeal or motion, or request information regarding a school’s appeal or motion?

Only individuals with legal standing (e.g., the president, owner or head of the school, or principal designated school official) or a designated attorney/accredited representative may submit a Form I-290B, "Notice of Appeal or Motion," and check the appropriate box in Part 3 for an appeal or motion.

If a school designates an attorney or accredited representative to file an appeal on its behalf, a properly signed Form G-28, "Notice of Entry or Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative," must also be submitted with the appeal or motion.

Only an affected party, or its attorney or representative may request specific information regarding a school’s appeal or motion, submit questions regarding the school’s appeal rights, or request a status update regarding a school’s appeal or motion. Affected parties may track the progress of their appeal by visiting the School Appeal Status Tracker on Study in the States and entering the unique tracking number provided for their case.

See 8 CFR 103.3(a)(1)(iii)(B), 8 CFR 103.3(a)(2) and 8 CFR 103.5(a)(1)(iii).

Is there a fee for filing an appeal or motion?

There is currently no fee associated with filing either an appeal or motion; see 8 CFR 214.4.

Do I need an attorney to file an appeal or motion?

No, a petitioner does not need an attorney or accredited representative, as defined in 8 CFR 1.2 and 292.1 respectively, to file an appeal or motion. However if a petitioner chooses to designate an attorney or accredited representative to file an appeal or motion on the school’s behalf, a properly signed Form G-28, "Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative," must also be submitted with the appeal or motion.

The Administrative Appeals Team cannot communicate with an attorney or accredited representative regarding a specific school until receiving a properly signed Form G-28.

See 8 CFR 1.2, 8 CFR 103.2(a)(3), 8 CFR 103.3(a)(2)(v)(A)(2) and 8 CFR 292.1.

How long will it take to process my appeal or motion?

Appeals and motions are processed in the order in which they are received. Processing times are dependent on the volume of cases received and vary based on the complexity of each case. Currently, the average processing time ranges anywhere from four months to 10 months. After an appeal or motion is filed, the Administrative Appeals Team cannot discuss the specifics of the case while the appeal or motion is pending. Affected parties may track the progress of their appeal by visiting the School Appeal Status Tracker on Study in the States and entering the unique tracking number provided for their case.

How am I notified of the decision on appeal or motion?

The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) and the Administrative Appeals Team (AAT) serve all notices, including decisions on appeals or motions, via the petitioner’s email address listed within the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), and, when applicable, to the attorney or accredited representative of record.

To ensure delivery of the decision, petitioners must inform SEVP and AAT of an email address change. To report an email address change while a case is pending, please contact the Administrative Appeals Team at Appeals.Adminteam@ice.dhs.gov and either the School Certification Unit (SCU) (if the denial or withdrawal was issued by SCU) at SchoolCert.SEVIS@ice.dhs.gov, or SEVP Analysis and Operations Center (SAOC) (if the withdrawal was issued by SAOC) at SEVP.Support@ice.dhs.gov.

Please note: petitioners cannot update contact information via SEVIS or through the SEVP Help Desk while their school is in denied or withdrawn status.

See 8 CFR 214.3(e).

If AAT dismisses my appeal, do I have other recourse?

There are two possible options of recourse if a petitioner’s appeal is dismissed:

  • A petitioner may file a motion to reopen and/or reconsider the appeal decision with the Administrative Appeals Team (AAT).
  • A petitioner may file a new Form I-17, "Petition for Approval of School for Attendance by Nonimmigrant Student," (Form I-17 petition), if applicable, with the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) School Certification Unit.

Please note:

  • Petitioners may not file a motion and a new Form I-17 petition simultaneously.
  • If the petitioner received a Notice of Denial of initial certification, a Notice of Summary Denial of Recertification or an Automatic Withdrawal, and AAT has dismissed the petitioner’s appeal, the petitioner may file a new Form I-17 petition at any time.
  • If the petitioner received a Withdrawal on Notice (WON) or a Notice of Denial of Recertification, and AAT dismissed the petitioner’s appeal, the petitioner must wait at least one calendar year from the date of the issued WON or Notice of Denial of Recertification decision to file a new Form I-17 petition with SEVP. Additionally, eligibility to re-petition is at the discretion of the SEVP director.

See 8 CFR 103.5 and 8 CFR 214.4(a)(1)-(3).

If I decide not to file a motion or appeal, do I have any other options?

A petitioner may decide to file a new Form I-17, "Petition for Approval of School for Attendance by Nonimmigrant Student," for Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) certification instead of filing a motion or appeal. However:

  • A petitioner who receives a Notice of Denial for initial certification, a Notice of Summary Denial of Recertification, a Notice of Denial due to abandonment, or an Automatic Withdrawal (AW) due to an alleged failure to timely report a change of ownership, may file a new Form I-17 petition for SEVP certification at any time and submit evidence that is current as of the new date of filing.
  • A petitioner who receives a Withdrawal on Notice (WON) or a Notice of Denial of Recertification must wait at least one calendar year from the date of the WON or denial of recertification to file a new Form I-17 petition. Additionally, eligibility to re-petition is at the discretion of the SEVP Director. SEVP will outline any restrictions on filing a new Form I-17 petition the Notice of Denial, WON or AW decision.

A new petition must stand on its own merit. Remember, schools and their officials have an obligation to the U.S. government to comply with the record keeping, retention, reporting and other requirements in 8 CFR 214.3. With any new Form I-17 petition for SEVP certification, SEVP will consider the extent to which a school and its officials have fulfilled these obligations to students and to the U.S. government during any previous period of SEVP certification.

See 8 CFR 103.2(b)(1), 8 CFR 214.3, 8 CFR 214.3(h)(2)(ii), 8 CFR 214.4(a)(1)-(3) and 8 CFR 214.4(i)(3).

Who do I contact if I have additional questions?

Petitioners may contact the Administrative Appeals Team via email at Appeals.AdminTeam@ice.dhs.gov with case-specific questions. They may also check on the status of their appeal through the School Appeal Status Tracker on Study in the States.

For general SEVP questions or questions not related to the appeal/motion process, please contact the SEVP Response Center.