By Laura Burdick
In a March 20, 2015 conference call with community-based organizations, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) answered some questions about the implications of Matter of United Farm Workers Foundation, its recent decision that agency staff members who are accredited at one recognized location of an agency are authorized to practice at any other recognized location of the same agency. Under this decision, organizations no longer need to file a separate application for accreditation at each recognized location where a staff person will be providing legal services. They only need to inform that BIA in a letter (with proof of service to their USCIS District Director and ICE Chief Counsel) that the staff person will be practicing at additional recognized locations, and ask the BIA to add the person’s name to the roster at the other locations.
Accreditation Expiration Dates
The BIA explained that it will apply the same accreditation expiration date to all locations where the staff person will be working. In cases where the staff person has different expiration dates for accreditation at different locations, the BIA will apply the earliest expiration date to all locations. This means that agencies with staff members accredited in more than one office location will need to apply for renewal of their accreditation by the earliest expiration date.
Concurrent Filing for Recognition and Accreditation
Prior to Matter of United Farm Workers Foundation, an application for agency recognition had to be accompanied by an application for staff accreditation, unless the agency had an attorney on staff. However, the BIA explained that in cases where an organization already has a recognized location with accredited staff at that location and is applying for recognition of a new location, the organization may apply for only recognition if it plans to use the existing accredited staff at the new location. In this situation, the organization should inform the BIA in its cover letter that the existing accredited staff member will be working at the new location and attach a copy of his/her grant of accreditation; the organization does not need to file concurrently for recognition and accreditation.
CLINIC affiliates with questions about their BIA application or staff accreditation expiration dates may contact their Field Support Coordinator for assistance.