FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT REQUESTS

FOIA

A confusing and frustrating aspect of immigration law is understanding what information the government does or does not have about an individual. It is crucial to know a person’s immigration history prior to filing. Having this important information at hand enables an applicant to provide correct information when filing but equally as important it allows a person to know whether to file at all. A person must have a clear understanding of what information the government has so that a person does not jeopardize their stay in the U.S. by filing an incorrect application. 

To resolve the dilemma of uncertainty, an immigration client is encouraged to utilize his or her right to access information from the federal government under the Freedom of Information Act. A request under the Freedom of Information Act, commonly referred to as a FOIA request, is a great tool to obtain particular information from a federal agency such as ICE, USCIS, and CBP. A written notification can be filed with an agency requesting specific information pertaining to entries and exits from the United States, apprehensions, a complete Alien file, or other immigration documents. Federal Act agencies are required to provide the requested records to any person that reasonably identifies the records sought and submits the request according to agency rules. The Act does not require the requestor to have a particular immigration status or even have any immigration status.  Moreover, the information must be provided and agencies must review requests in favor of the applicant so that the information is provided unless it falls within a particular exclusion or exemptions. There are three exclusions and nine exemptions so it is important to file a properly submitted FOIA request seeking the correct documents that are not subject to an exclusion or exemption. 

If you need to obtain a copy of your immigration history or you are uncertain about the information a federal agency may have about you, we invite you to consult with us today. We will review your situation, make a determination as the which agencies must be notified for a FOIA request, and carefully review the results with you. Agencies issue a response to requests in the order received, with those more complex requests taking additional time as it may require obtaining multiple documents from multiple locations. Response times are also impacted by the number of requests that are received by an agency. Federal agencies do not charge an initial fee for FOIA requests but may charge a nominal fee to recover research expenses and the cost of making document copies. The Serrano Law Firm charges a reasonable flat fee for this service and more importantly gives you the peace of mind that your request is timely and correctly filed the first time. Give us a call today, delaying the process will only make the response time longer. We have extensive experience filing various forms of FOIA requests and understand the intricate process of reviewing the results. Let us determine which one is the right one for you.