Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Request for USCIS, EOIR, and CBP
The Freedom of Information Act states that any person, U.S. citizen or not, has the right to request access to federal agency records or information. As a result, all federal agencies are required to disclose records when a written request is made. All records are available to the public aside from those records that are protected by the exemptions and exclusions created by FOIA.
Our immigration lawyers in Los Angeles have successfully helped hundreds of clients file Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests with various Government agencies. We offer a free consultation and competitive rates, contact us now.
How can I file a FOIA request with USCIS?
In order to make a FOIA request with USCIS, you must mail or fax all requests for USCIS records to the USCIS National Records Center, FOIA Office. A Form G-639 can be used to make a FOIA request, but it is not required and a formal letter with all of the necessary information will suffice.
It is important that you are as specific as possible when making a FOIA request in order to make the process as simple as possible and to increase your chances of receiving the documents which you require.
If you have already filed a FOIA request with USCIS, you may check the status of the request online here.
If you have a hearing before an immigration judge, you may be able to expedite your FOIA request by including one of the following documents along with your FOIA request:
- Notice to Appear showing a future scheduled hearing before an immigration judge;
- Order to Show Cause, showing a future scheduled hearing before an immigration judge;
- Notice of Referral to immigration Judge, or
- A written request of continuation of a scheduled hearing before an immigration judge.
Why was my FOIA request denied?
FOIA requests are often denied due to many reasons and take can additional time to process if not prepared correctly the first time. If you would like assistance with your FOIA request, please feel free to contact our experienced immigration attorneys at JCS Immigration and Visa Law Office.
FOIA Request through Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
In order to make a FOIA request with CBP, you must submit a request online through the United States FOIA website by selecting CBP as the Federal Agency.
While certain information must be included in a FOIA request, the CBP does not require any type of special form. If you seek information regarding someone else’s records, you must receive a notarized signature from the subject of the records sought with a statement authorizing the release of the information requested. In the case that the subject is deceased, include proof of death (death certificate or newspaper obituary, for example).
Be as specific as possible with regard to the names, dates, places, events, and subjects that are relative to the request you are making. If you are requesting records about a court case, provide the title of the case, the court in which the case was filed, and the general nature of the case. The more specific you can be regarding the record or information you are looking for, the more successful your request will be.
CBP records can take a long time to receive and it is important that the request is sent completed and accurately the first time as it will greatly slow down the process if there are inaccuracies. Contact our immigration lawyer now for a free consultation and information to help you.
FOIA Request through the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR)
Given that the EOIR is part of the Department of Justice and is not part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), any questions in regards to requests made with DHS should not be made to the EOIR. In addition, when making a FOIA request with the EOIR, do not use any DHS forms. All FOIA requests through the EOIR should be sent directly to the EOIR FOIA Service Center.
As in FOIA requests with other agencies, the requester must identify themselves. If the requested records are not concerning the person making the request, a signed and notarized statement must be provided by the person whose records are being requested authorizing the release of their information. In order to verify an identity, use a Certification of Identity.
The more detailed your request is, the more likely it is that you will receive the records you require. Please include full names, aliases, immigration hearing locations, alien registration numbers, the dates of all hearings and the names and locations of the courts involved, and the immigrant’s country of origin.
All requests should be submitted to the Office of the General Counsel at the EOIR.
Unless you are a commercial requester, there is no charge for the first 100 pages of documents requested and/or 2 hours of search time. Document requests that exceed 100 pages will be charged a fee of $0.10 per page and a $10.25 managerial fee. If the fee is less than $14, then a fee will not be charged. If fees exceed $25, the requester will be notified and the requester must agree to pay the fee before records are released.
The EOIR will respond to your request within 20-30 working days to inform you if the EOIR will comply with your request, depending on what is needed to determine whether a request can be fulfilled.
If you need your FOIA request expedited due to:
- Imminent threat to the life or safety of an individual;
- An urgency to inform the public regarding a Federal Government activity if the request is being made by someone who is engaged in disseminating this information;
- Loss of due process rights; or
- A matter of exceptional media interest in which government integrity is in question and public confidence could be affected.
We encourage you to contact an immigration attorney if you have trouble with the above Federal Agencies or to follow up with these agencies on your behalf.