3.3 - Documents

(a) Language — All Notices of Appeal (Form EOIR‑26) must be submitted in the English language or be accompanied by a certified English translation.  8 C.F.R. § 1003.3(a)(3).

All motions and documentation filed in support of an appeal or motion must either be in the English language or be accompanied by an English language translation and a certification signed by the translator, printed or typed, in accordance with the regulations.  See 8 C.F.R. § 1003.2(g)(1).  Such certification must include a statement that the translator is competent to translate the language of the document and that the translation is true and accurate to the best of the translator’s abilities.  See 8 C.F.R. § 1003.33.  See also Appendix G (Cert. of Translation).

          (b) Signatures — No appeal, motion, brief, or request for Board action is properly filed without a signature of the individual who drafted or prepared the document(s), whether DHS, an unrepresented or pro se respondent, a practitioner of record, or a practitioner who drafted, completed, or prepared the document(s) pursuant to a limited appearance for document assistance.  See 8 C.F.R. § 1003.38(g)(3).1003.2(g)(8), 1003.3(g)(5).  A Proof of Service also requires a signature but may be signed by someone designated by the filing party.  See Chapter 3.2(d) (Proof of Service).  Reproductions of signatures are acceptable when contained in a photocopy or fax of an original document as long as the original is available to the Board upon request.  See subsection (d), below.  See also Chapter 3.1(a) (Filing).

          A signature represents a certification by the signer that: the signer has read the document; to the best of the signer’s knowledge, information, and belief formed after reasonable inquiry, the document is grounded in fact; the document is submitted in good faith; and the document has not been filed for any improper purpose.  See 8 C.F.R. § 1003.102(j)(1).  A signature represents the signer’s authorization, attestation, and accountability.

          Every handwritten signature written in ink must be accompanied by a typed or printed version of the name.

          (1) Paper submissions — The Board accepts handwritten ink, encrypted digital signature, or electronic signatures, subject to any form or application requirements.  Reproductions of signatures are acceptable when contained in a photocopy or fax of an original document as long as the original is available to the Board upon request.  See subsection (d), below.  See also Chapter 3.1(a) (Filing).

          (2) Electronic submissions — For electronic filings through ECAS, the Board accepts ink, encrypted digital signature, or electronic signatures, subject to any form or application requirements.  For documents electronically filed through ECAS, a user who is logged in and electronically filing through ECAS may use a conformed signature wherever their personal signature is required. CONFORMED SIGNATURE EXAMPLE: /S/ John Doe.  See 8 C.F.R. § 1003.38(g)(3,.1003.2(g)(8), 1003.3(g)(5).  When a Notice of Appearance (Form EOIR-27) is electronically submitted, the electronic acknowledgment and submission of the Form EOIR-27 constitutes the signature of the respondent’s practitioner of record.

          (3) Law firms/organizations — Only the practitioner of record – not a law firm, law office/organization, or other practitioner – may sign a submission to the Board.  See Chapters 2.1(b) (Entering an Appearance as the Practitioner of Record), 2.1(b)(4) (Multiple Practitioners of Record ), 2.1(b)(5) (Law Firms/Organizations).

          (4) Accredited representatives — Accredited representatives must sign their own submissions.

          (5) Paralegals and other staff — Paralegals and other staff are not authorized to practice before the Board and may not sign a submission to the Board.  See Chapter 2.6 (Paralegals).  However, paralegals may sign a Proof of Service when authorized by the filing party.  See Chapter 3.2(d) (Proof of Service).

          (6) Other practitioners — Only those individuals who have been authorized by the Board to make appearances and have submitted a Notice of Appearance (Form EOIR‑27) or Notice of Limited Appearance (Form EOIR-60) may sign submissions to the Board.  See Chapters 2.5 (Law Students and Law Graduates), 2.9 (Others).  Non-lawyer “immigration specialists/consultants,” “notarios,” and “visa consultants” are not authorized to represent a party or appear before the Board.  See Chapter 2.7 (Immigration Specialists/Consultants).

          (7) Family members — A family member may sign submissions on behalf of a party only under certain circumstances.  See Chapter 2.8 (Family Members).

          (c) Format — The Board prefers all filings and (where appropriate) supporting documents to be typed or printed, but will accept handwritten filings.  The filing party should make sure that items submitted to the Board are legible.

          The Board does not accept electronic media (e.g., CDs, DVDs, VHS tapes, audio cassette tapes, thumb drives, or other electronic medium).  Where possible, the Board will return electronic media to the sender.  The Board also does not accept faxes or other electronic transmissions without prior authorization by the Board.  See Chapter 3.1(a)(5) (Faxes).

          (1) Order of documents — Filings should be assembled as follows.  All forms should be filled out completely.

          (A) Appeals — An appeal package should comply with the instructions on the Notice of Appeal (Form EOIR‑26).  The appeal package should contain (in order):

  1. filing fee (if applicable, stapled to the Notice of Appeal) or fee receipt (if fee paid electronically)
  2. Notice of Appeal (Form EOIR‑26) (with its Certificate of Service completed)
  3. Fee Waiver Request (Form EOIR‑26A, if unable to pay the filing fee)
  4. Notice of Appearance (Form EOIR‑27), or Notice of Limited Appearance (Form EOIR-60), if required
  5. Supporting documentation (if any)

          See Chapters 2.1 (Representation and Appearances Generally), 3.2(d) (Proof of Service), 3.4 (Filing Fees), 4.4 (Filing an Appeal).

          (B) Motions — A motion package should contain (in order):

  1. Filing fee (if applicable, stapled to the cover page of the motion) or fee receipt (if paid electronically)
  2. Motion (with appropriate cover page)
  3. Supporting documentation (if any)
  4. Fee Waiver Request (Form EOIR‑26A, if unable to pay the filing fee)
  5. Notice of Appearance (Form EOIR‑27), or Notice of Limited Appearance (Form EOIR-60), if required
  6. Change of Address (Form EOIR‑33/BIA, which is recommended even if the respondent’s address has not changed)
  7. Proof of Service

          See Chapters 2.1 (Representation and Appearances Generally), 3.2(d) (Proof of Service), 3.3(c)(6) (Cover page and caption), 3.4 (Filing Fees), 5.1(b) (Practitioners), 5.2 (Filing a Motion).

          (C) Supplementary filings — The Board accepts supplementary filings only in limited situations.  See, e.g., Chapter 4.6(g) (Supplemental briefs).  A supplementary filing should contain (in order):

  1. Supplementary filing  (with cover page and caption)
  2. Supporting documentation
  3. Notice of Appearance (Form EOIR‑27) for a new appearance, or Notice of Limited Appearance (Form EOIR-60) if required
  4. Proof of Service

          See also Chapters 2.1 (Representation and Appearances Generally), 3.2(d) (Proof of Service), 3.3(c)(6) (Cover page and caption).

          (2) Number of copies — Only the original of each appeal or motion need be filed with the Board.  Similarly, only one set of supporting documents need be filed with the Board.  Multiple copies of any appeal, motion, or supporting document should not be filed, unless otherwise instructed.  Where there is a consolidated proceeding, only one copy need be filed for the entire group.  See Chapters 4.6(e) (Consolidated Briefs), 4.10(a) (Consolidated Appeals).

          (3) Number of pages — Briefs and other submissions should always be paginated.  Parties must limit the body of their briefs to 50 pages unless otherwise directed by the Board.  In computing the length limit, headings, footnotes, and quotations count toward the limit.  In addition, regardless of the descriptive heading, the page count toward the page limit includes any statement of facts and procedural history, statement of issues presented for review, standard of review, summary of the argument, argument, and conclusion.  By contrast, the following items do not count toward the page limit:

  • Cover page;
  • Table of contents;
  • Table of citations;
  • Signature block;
  • Certificate / proof of service;
  • Addendum containing statutes, rules, regulations, or case law; and
  • Supporting documentation.

Oversized briefs unnecessarily burden the Board.  Motions to accept briefs that exceed the page limitation established by the Board are disfavored and will not be granted absent a showing of extraordinary and compelling circumstances.  If a party files an oversized brief, the brief should be accompanied with a written motion entitled “MOTION TO EXTEND PAGE LIMIT” that generally complies with the rules and procedures for motions and filings.  See Chapter 3 (Filing with the Board), Chapter 5.2 (Filing a Motion).  Thus, the motion and brief need to be submitted together.  If an oversized brief is filed without a motion to extend the page limit, the brief will be rejected.

Motions to extend the page limit also should include a statement of reasons for exceeding the page limitation that demonstrates extraordinary and compelling reasons.  Note that stating that a case involves asylum law or complex legal issues is not sufficient.  If the motion is granted, the motion and brief are incorporated into the record, and the brief is considered by the Board.  If the motion is denied, the motion is retained as part of the record, but the brief is removed without consideration.  In either case, the parties are notified of the Board’s decision.  Motions to reconsider denials will not be considered.

          (4) Paper size and quality — All documents should be submitted on standard 8 ½” x 11” paper, in order to fit into the record of proceedings.  See 8 C.F.R. § 1003.32(b).  Use of legal-size paper (8½” x 14”) is discouraged, as is paper of other sizes.  See subsection (10), below.

          Paper should be of standard stock – white, opaque, and unglazed.  Given its fragility and its tendency to fade, photo-sensitive facsimile paper should never be used. Ink should be dark, preferably black.

          Briefs and motions should be one-sided.  Supporting documentation should also be one-sided.

          (5) Tabs — For paper filings, parties are strongly encouraged to use paper separators (i.e., a piece of paper with “Tab A” printed on it) instead of indexing tabs to separate the distinct portions of an appeal or motion package.  Paper separators allow the Board to more easily scan the documents into the eROP.  Because immigration courts generally refer to court exhibits by number, the Board prefers that parties refer to paper separators alphabetically to avoid confusion.

          (6) Cover page and caption — All motions, briefs, and supplemental filings should include a cover page.  The cover page should include a caption and contain the following information:

  • The name and address of the filing party
  • The title of the filing (such as “RESPONDENT’S MOTION TO REOPEN” or “DHS BRIEF ON APPEAL”)
  • The full name for each respondent covered by the filing (as it appears on the charging document)
  • The A-number for each respondent covered by the filing
  • The type of proceeding involved (such as removal, deportation, exclusion, bond, visa petition)

          See Appendix E (Cover Pages).  If the filing involves special circumstances, that information should appear prominently on the cover page, preferably in the top right corner and highlighted (e.g., “DETAINED,” “EXPEDITE REQUEST,” “JOINT MOTION”).

          (7) Fonts and spacing — Font and type size must be easily readable.  “Times New Roman 12 point” font is preferred.  Double-spaced text and single-spaced footnotes are also preferred.  Both proportionally spaced and monospaced fonts are acceptable.

          (8) Binding — The immigration courts and the Board use a two-hole punch system to maintain paper files.  The Board appreciates receiving briefs and materials pre-punched with two holes along the top  (centered and 2¾” apart).  Submissions should neither be bound on the side nor commercially bound, as such items must be disassembled to fit into the record of proceedings and might be inadvertently damaged in the process.  Submissions may be stapled in the top left corner.  The use of removable binder clips is unacceptable.  The use of ACCO-type fasteners is discouraged.

          (9) Forms — Forms should be completed in full and must comply with certain requirements.  See Chapter 12 (Forms).  See also Appendix D (Forms).

          (10) Photographs, original documents and odd-sized documents — The Board recommends that parties not submit original photographs or other original documents unless instructed to do so.  See subsection (d), below.  If a party nonetheless wishes to submit a photograph, the party should:  print identifying information on the back of the photograph, including the respondent’s name and A-number, display the photograph on an 8½” x 11” sheet of paper, and print the same identifying information on the sheet of paper as well.

          The Board also discourages the submission of other odd-sized materials, such as official certificates, and strongly advises that parties submit photocopies.  See Chapter 3.3(d)(4) (Supporting documents).  If a party nonetheless wishes to submit an odd-sized document, the document should be prepared in the same way as a photograph.  The Board will not accept odd-sized materials submitted on electronic media.  See subsection (c) above.

          (d) Originals and Reproductions — 

          (1) Notices of Appeal — The original Notice of Appeal (Form EOIR‑26) must always bear the original signature of the person filing the appeal or, if applicable, that of that person’s practitioner of record or that of the practitioner who drafted, completed, or prepared the Notice of Appeal (Form EOIR-26) pursuant to a limited appearance for document assistance.  See Chapter 3.3(b) (Signatures).  A copy of a signed original is acceptable, provided that the signed original is available to the Board upon request.  See Chapter 3.1(a) (Filing).

          (2) Motions — The original of a motion must always bear an original signature.  See Chapter 3.3(b) (Signatures).  A copy of a signed original is acceptable, provided that the signed original is available to the Board upon request.  However, a Notice of Appeal (Form EOIR‑26) may not be used to file a motion.

          (3) Forms — The original of a form must always bear a signature.  See Chapter 3.3(b) (Signatures), 12.3 (Submitting Completed Forms).

          (4) Supporting documents — The Board strongly recommends that parties submit copies of supporting documents not originals, unless instructed otherwise.  The Board does not accept electronic media (e.g., CDs, DVDs, VHS tapes, audio cassette tapes, thumb drives, or other electronic medium) in place of original supporting documents.  See Chapter 3.3(c) (Format).  Parties should retain original documents in the event that an immigration judge or the Board requests them at a later date.  The Board does not as a practice return original documents, nor can the Board ensure the return of any original documents submitted to it.

          All reproductions should be clear, legible, and made on standard-sized paper.  See Chapter 3.3(c)(4) (Paper size and quality). Photographs, illustrations, and tables may be reproduced by any method that results in a good copy of the original, but not by electronic media.  See Chapter 3.3(c) (Format).  The Board prefers that all documents, unless voluminous, be one-sided.

          Parties wishing to submit original photographs, certificates, or other odd-sized documents should consult Chapter 3.3(c)(10) (Photographs, original documents, and odd-sized documents).

          (e) Source Materials — When a party relies on a source of law that is not readily and publicly available free of charge, a copy of that source of law must be provided to the Board and the other party.  When a party relies upon any supporting document, a copy of that document must be provided to the Board and the other party.

          (1) Source of law — When a party relies on a source of law that is not readily available, that source of law should be reproduced in or attached to the brief.  Similarly, if citation is made to governmental memoranda, legal opinions, advisory opinions, communiques, or other ancillary legal authority or source, copies of such items should be provided by the citing party, along with the brief.

          (2) Source of factual information — Photocopied secondary source material filed in support of an appeal or motion must be clearly marked and have identifying information, including the precise title, date, and page of the material being provided.  The Board strongly encourages the submission of title pages containing identifying information for the published matter (e.g., author, year of publication).  Identifying information should appear on the document itself and not just in a list of exhibits or table of contents. Any copy of the State Department Country Reports on Human Rights Practices must indicate the year of that particular report.

          Regarding the propriety of submitting evidence, see Chapter 4.8 (Evidence on Appeal).

          (3) Highlighting — When a party submits voluminous secondary source material, that party should flag and emphasize the pertinent passages of that secondary source material, as well as specific references to a party.  Additionally, a party is encouraged to use pin cites to pertinent passages when referring to that secondary source material within a brief or motion.

          (f) Federal Court Remands — 

          (1) Circuit court or district court orders — When a federal court orders further action in a case before the Board, the parties are asked to provide a copy of the federal court order to the Board.  Parties should not assume federal court orders are provided by the federal court to the Board.

          (2) Copies of certified record — When a decision of the Board is reviewed by a federal court, the Board provides that court with a certified copy of the record before the Board.  Copies of a certified record do not need to be included with submissions to the Board.

          (3) Documents filed with federal court — Proceedings before a federal court are separate from proceedings before the Board.  Documents submitted by parties to the federal court are not part of the record before the Board and may need to be submitted directly to the Board.  However, parties should wait to submit such documents until the Board confirms that it has received the federal court’s order.  See Chapter 4.19 (Federal Court Remands).  Also, parties must meet all other filing requirements covered in this chapter.

          (g) Criminal Conviction Documents — Documents regarding criminal convictions must comport with the requirements set forth in 8 C.F.R. § 1003.41.

Updated June 23, 2023