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U.S. Immigration Law Research Guide: Case Law

This research guide provides an overview of pertinent resources for the Immigrant Advocacy Concentration at Loyola Law School and immigration law practice generally.

Immigration Cases

Decisions of some immigration-related agencies, including the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer (OCAHO), and the Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (BALCA), can be appealed to the U.S. Courts of Appeals and ultimately the U.S. Supreme Court.

The U.S. Court of Appeals located in California is the Ninth Circuit. Cases decided by the U.S. Supreme Court and Ninth Circuit are mandatory (binding) on immigration issues in California, while cases from other circuits are only persuasive.

Both Lexis and Westlaw provide collections of immigration cases decided by the U.S. Supreme Court and U.S. Courts of Appeals:

Citing U.S. Courts of Appeals Cases to the Federal Reporter

The U.S. Courts of Appeals select approximately 25% of their cases for publication. Only cases that have been selected for publication are mandatory (binding).

Published U.S. Courts of Appeals cases appear in the Federal Reporter, and should be cited to the appropriate Federal Reporter volume and page number, as shown in Bluebook Table 1:


144 F.3d 110 (1st Cir. 1998).

200 F.3d 603 (9th Cir. 1999).

(Please note that there is no space between the reporter name and edition, e.g. F., F.2d, F.3d, not F. 2d or F. 3d)

You may also see citations to the Federal Appendix (F. App'x), a collection of unpublished U.S. Courts of Appeals cases from 2001-present. Although Westlaw physically publishes F. App'x cases, the courts consider F. App'x cases unpublished. Unpublished cases are binding only on the parties. However, unpublished cases decided in or after 2007 may be cited as persuasive. Some circuits, including the Ninth Circuit, prohibit citing unpublished cases decided before 2007, even as persuasive.