The Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, the District Courts and the Bankruptcy Appellate Panels hear appeals cases.
The United States are divided into 94 judicial districts, including at least one district in each state. Usually each of the 50 states has between one and four district, and each district has its own District Court (and a Bankruptcy Court under its authority), which include Federal Judges, court reporters, clerks, and other support personnel. Judicial districts are organized into 12 regional circuits, each of which has its own Court of Appeals.
The U.S. District Courts are the trial courts of the federal court system and have jurisdiction to hear nearly all categories of federal cases, including civil cases, criminal matters, and Federal Immigration Crimes.
On the other side, Bankruptcy Courts function as units of the District Courts and have subject-matter jurisdiction over bankruptcy cases only.
The U.S. Court of Appeals hears appeals from the District Courts, located within its circuit, as well as appeals from decisions of Federal Administrative Agencies and Appeals to the BIA.
The Court of Appeals has two special trial courts that have nationwide jurisdiction over certain types of cases
- The Court of International Trade has nationwide jurisdiction over cases involving international trade and customs issues
- The Court of Federal Claimshas jurisdiction over disputes like monetary claims or federal contracts against the U.S. government
The Bankruptcy Appellate Panels (BAPs), are units of the federal Courts of Appeals, made of 3 bankruptcy judges appellate panels, authorized to hear appeals of Bankruptcy Court decisions. BAPs were established under the Bankruptcy Reform Acts of 1978 and 1994.
The party that loses in the initial bankruptcy appeal may then appeal to the Court of Appeals. Anyway, one of the parties could ask to have the bankruptcy appeal heard by the District Court.
The Court of Appeals decisions usually are the last word in a case, unless it sends the case back to the trial court for additional proceedings, or the parties ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case.
The Supreme Court of the United States, made of the Chief Justice of the United States and 8 associate justices, hears only a limited and selected number of cases each year, involving important questions about the U.S. Constitution or federal laws.
Administrative Appeals Office and Board of Immigration Appeals
In the case of unfavorable immigration decisions, such as denials of employment-based or temporary workers petitions, denials of re-entry permit applications, or revocation of approvals of immigrant visa petitions, you may file an Appeal to the AAO of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). Generally, if the AAO affirms the lower decision, you can still appeal to a U.S. District Courts.
Other decisions, such as those on family-based visa petitions, denials of applications for relief from removal, are appealed to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), part of the U.S. Department of Justice. In most cases, if the BIA affirms the lower court’s decision, a Federal Circuit Court Appeal can be filed.
Under authority that the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has delegated to USCIS, AAO exercise appellate jurisdiction over approximately 50 different immigration case types. Not every type of denied immigration benefit request may be appealed, and some appeals fall under the jurisdiction of the BIA. It is generally advisable to check eligibility with an appeals lawyer.