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Immigration Law Research Guide: 3. Administrative Decisions

Provides general and specialized sources for researching U.S. immigration law, including online government resources, statutes, regulations & case law, plus general and specialized secondary sources and immigration-related organizations.

Decisions of Immigration Law Judges

Immigration judges handle exclusion, deportation, and removal cases in Immigration Court.  They are located under the Attorney General within the Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR).  Decisions are appealed to the Board of Immigration Appeals.

Decisions of immigration law judges are not reported in any specific reporter.  However, a good source for locating summaries of these decisions is the periodical Interpreter Releases, a weekly publication.

Interpreter Releases. (Thomson Reuters/West, 1923- ).

Library: KF 4802 .I58 (Stacks)(*print ceased in 2020)
Westlaw: INTERREL (1987- ).

The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA)

The BIA reviews decisions of immigration judges and select DHS administrative decisions.  The BIA is located within the EOIR.  BIA decisions may be appealed to the Federal courts.  **BIA decisions since 2000 are available on the EOIR website (see below).

Published decisions selected as precedent:

Administrative Decisions under Immigration & Nationality Laws (I. & N. Dec.), Department of Justice. (G.P.O., 1940-2000).

Contains AG, BIA, DHS and INS precedent decisions, volumes 1-22, 1940-2000. (After 2000, see the EOIR website, below).

Library: KF 4812 .A23 (Stacks)

Hein's Cumulative Index to Interim Precedent Decisions of the Board of Immigration Appeals, (William S. Hein, 1992- ). Volumes 1-20, 1940-1995.

Library: KF 4812.7 .H45 (Stacks)

Online Access:

Westlaw: FIM-BIA (published and unpublished BIA decisions)(1940- )
Lexis: BIA, AAO/AAU Precedent decisions (1940 -); Non-Precedent decisions (1985 -)
HeinOnline: Administrative Decisions, BIA, Vols. 1-28 (1940-2021) *UCLA Community only
Internet: Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR), Attorney General and BIA Precedent Decisions (1958- )


Unpublished Decisions (Index Decisions):

Internet: Internet Archive's "Wayback Machine" (no longer on EOIR Virtual Law LIbrary): Indexed Decisions (1996-2001)

Office of the Chief Adminsitrative Hearing Officer (OCAHO)

OCAHO is located in the Department of Justice.  It decides cases involving employer sanctions for unlawful employment of undocumented workers, immigration-related document fraud, and unfair immigration-related employment practices.  Decisions may be appealed to a federal court of appeals.

Adminsitrative Decisions under Employer Sanctions, Unfair Immigration-Related Employment Practices and Civil Penalty Document Fraud Laws of the United States, (G.P.O., 1988-2000).

Library: KF 4829 .A558 (Stacks)


Online Access:

LexisNexis: IMMIG;OCAHO (1988- )
Westlaw: FIM-OCAHO(1988- )
HeinOnline: Administrative Decisions, OCAHO, Vols. 1-15 (1988-2021) *UCLA Community only
Internet: Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR); links to published OCAHO decisions (1988- ). Browse by Bound Volume, or use the Cumulative Topical Index

Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (BALCA)

If an employer's application for labor certification is denied, the employer may appeal the denial to BALCA, which is under the Department of Labor.  If BALCA denies the appeal, the employer or the employee may seek review in Federal Court.



Immigration Law and Procedure, rev. ed., Charles Gordon, Stanley Mailman, and Stephen Yale-Loehr.  (Matthew Bender, 1988- ).

The BALCA Deskbook 2d (1992) and the supplement (1997) containing summaries of decisions, are reprinted in Volume 13.

Library: KF 4819 .G6 1966 (Stacks)


Interpreter Releases. (Thomson Reuters/West, 1988- ).

Weekly publication; includes BALCA summaries.

Library: KF 4902 .I58 (Stacks)(*print ceased in 2020)
Westlaw: INTERREL (1987 -)



LexisNexis: Immigration Law & Procedure (Appendices >DOL Sources > Active > BALCA Deskbook)
IMMIG;BALCA (BALCA Decisions 1987- )
Westlaw: FIM-BALCADB (Immigration Law Service Primary Source > BALCA Deskbook)
FIM-BALCA (BALCA Decisions 1987- )
Internet: Department of Labor, Immigration Collection (selected BALCA decisions)


INS/DHS General Counsel Opinions

The INS General Counsel's Office issued decisions providing guidance to immigration officers.  When the INS was abolished, the Homeland Security Act of 2002 created the Office of General Counsel within DHS.

LexisNexis: DOJ & (Legacy) INS Opinions (1991-2006)
Westlaw: INS General Counsel Opinions (1991-2001)
Internet: DHS/AAO/INS decisions (mix of selected decisions going back to 1958)

Administrative Appeals Office (AAO)

The AAO hears appeals from decisions made by DHS district directors and regional service centers based on the record.  Previously, this office was known as the Administrative Appeals Unit (AAU).

Westlaw: Administrative Appeals Office Decisions(1989- )
LexisNexis: BIA, AAO/AAU Precedent decisions (1940 -);
BIA, AAO/AAU Non-Precedent decisions (1985 -)
Internet: USCIS: Administrative Appeals Office.  Contains links to non-precedent decisions, adopted decisions, and precedent decisions.  

Searching Across Multiple Agencies

Westlaw and Lexis have combined Immigration administrative databases. 


Westlaw: Immigration Administrative Decisions & Guidance

Lexis: Administrative Materials, Immigration Law