Information released with your FOIA request
What is The Freedom of Information Act?
Enacted in 1966, The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is a federal law that establishes the public’s right to obtain information from federal government agencies. Any person can file a FOIA request, including U.S. citizens, foreign nationals, organizations, associations, and universities. Following the Watergate scandal, the Act was amended in 1974 to force greater agency compliance. It was also amended in 1996 to allow for greater access to electronic information.
What kind of records can I ask for?
Records obtainable under the FOIA include all “agency records” that were created or obtained by a Federal agency and are, at the time the request is filed, in that agency’s possession and control. These include print documents, photographs, videos, maps, e-mail and electronic records.
As related to immigration, a person can file a FOIA request with the following agencies:
• Customs & Border Protection (CBP) – for example, to request a detailed record of your U.S. border crossings by car after 1982, or for information related to your detention by border patrol at a U.S. port of entry.
• Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) – for example, to request a copy of your medical records while in detention.
• U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) – for example, to request a copy of your Alien record, or “A- file.”
• Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) – for example, to request a copy of your immigration court records.
• U.S. Department of State – for example, to request your passport, visa, and consular records.
Will I get everything I ask for?
Congress provided special protections for purposes of law enforcement and national security records. Information may be excluded to protect an ongoing criminal law enforcement investigation, and to protect the existence of foreign intelligence or counterintelligence, or international terrorism records when the existence of such records is classified.
How long will it take to receive my records?
The amount of time it takes to process your request for immigration records varies greatly among the various agencies. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) takes about 3-6 months, and USCIS and ICE are currently taking up to 12-18 months.
How do I submit a request?
Each agency has its own rules and procedures for submitting a FOIA request. Requests can sometimes be filed online, and every request must be well-detailed for processing efficiency. Berardi Immigration Law is able to assist you in determining the proper agency for which a FOIA request should be sent, and advise you of the necessary government forms and documentation.
If you have questions about obtaining any of the above immigration related records that the U.S. government may hold, contact us to speak with one of our Immigration Attorneys.