Requesting Immigration Records with the Freedom of Information Act
- Your own immigration records in your Alien File (A-file)
- The immigration papers for another person
- Or to correct or amend records, you have already submitted
- FIrst, you need to identify the information you need. The USCIS website has a provided a list of which agency should be contacted depending on the type of information you wish to receive.
- You must file the request to the proper federal agency. Once you have determined the proper federal agency, the next step is to send a written request either by fax or by mail to the proper agency. This information can be found on their websites. The USCIS also accepts the G-639 form, but it is not required.
- The next step is unfortunately waiting. The FOIA requires that the agencies respond within 20 days (excluding holidays and weekends). However, the agency is only required to send you a response as to their decision within those twenty days–it could take more time to actually receive the documents.
- Each agency processes FOIA requests within different timeframes and have different ways of prioritizing information requests under FOIA. The USCIS may take an extra 10 days to send the documents, and divides the requests into tiers depending on the importance and time sensitivity of the document.
- Classified information,
- Internal information regarding personnel rules and agency policy,
- Confidential commercial or trade secrets,
- Records that would be privileged in litigation,
- Certain law enforcement records,
- Information that would invade someone else’s privacy,
- Information related to the use of an agency responsible for the regulation or supervision of financial institutions,
- Material specifically shielded by another law, and
- Certain geographical/geological data
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