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Administrative Procedures Act (APA)

Last Updated: 
Thu, Jan 23, 2014

District courts have jurisdiction to review a wide-variety of immigration decisions that arise outside of removal proceedings, including challenges to denials of visa petitions. These cases most often assert a claim under the APA, which permits individuals to sue the government for unlawful agency action. While the INA places some restrictions on review of discretionary decisions in non-removal cases, it does not strip district courts of all jurisdiction. The LAC seeks to ensure that district courts exercise jurisdiction over these APA cases to the fullest extent possible.



Ngassem v. Chertoff, No. 05-0584-cv (2d Cir. amicus brief filed Apr. 16, 2008) (case settled without a decision from the court). The LAC filed an amicus brief in support of the petitioner, arguing that the district court had jurisdiction over the denial of an asylee relative petition.

Jama v. DHS, et al., No. 13-4192 (6th Cir. amicus brief submitted Dec. 4, 2013).  The LAC filed an amicus brief arguing that the district court erred when it found that USCIS’ decision terminating the plaintiff’s refugee status was not “final” for purposes of the Administrative Procedure Act because the termination decision could not be appealed or raised in removal proceedings.  Additionally, the LAC argues that the restrictions on judicial review found in the INA do not apply to a district court action, such as this one, that is entirely unrelated to removal proceedings.


LAC Practice Advisory: Immigration Lawsuits and the APA: The Basics of a District Court Action (May 9, 2007). This Practice Advisory discusses the primary issues involved in an APA suit, with examples of how these issues have been decided in immigration cases and arguments that can be made to meet the various procedural requirements for an APA action.

LAC Practice Advisory: Federal Court Jurisdiction Over Discretionary Decisions After REAL ID: Mandamus, Other Affirmative Suits and Petitions for Review (April 5, 2006). This Practice Advisory discusses federal court jurisdiction over discretionary decisions after REAL ID in both the removal and non-removal contexts. It suggests an analysis for determining whether a court retains jurisdiction over a particular issue or case.

LAC Practice Advisory: Judicial Review Provisions of The REAL ID Act (June 7, 2005). The REAL ID Act, which was signed into law on May 11, 2005, contains numerous provisions related to federal court review of immigration cases. This Practice Advisory contains a preliminary analysis of the judicial review provisions.