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The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is a federal law in the United States that grants individuals the right to request access to some federal agency records or information.

Most common agencies that apply to immigration processes: 

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS): Handles green card processes, citizenship, various humanitarian processes, etc. It holds records related to the “A-file” of the alien. 

“A-files” are a series of records documenting a person’s immigration history. They are created when a request or petition for a benefit is made, or when an action is initiated against the person, for example, if the alien is arrested by an immigration officer. 


U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP): Deals with seizure, detention, deportation, entry, exit, expedited removal, background investigations or inspections records, I-94 records, travel sector booking data such as passenger name records, and voluntary departure. 


Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR): Handles records of immigration court proceedings and the Board of Immigration Appeals, known as BIA. 


U.S. Department of State: Holds information about immigrant and non-immigrant visa applications processed by the department, such as Form DS-260 and DS-160. 


Situations in which to request a FOIA: 

Anyone with any immigration history, such as having been arrested by immigration authorities, deported, entered or stayed in the U.S. illegally, completed DS-160 or DS-260 forms, initiated any immigration process, etc., should request a FOIA to understand the information held by the U.S. government. These records could be examined by officials when assessing current applications. Having access to this information is crucial in case any discrepancies need clarification or correction. Information found in the FOIA may even justify not starting an immigration process. Just as they can uncover valuable things, such as approvals of past processes that may have a huge impact on future processes. 

The FOIA can also be crucial in deciding whether or not to initiate an immigration request. Additionally, it can help resolve specific issues by providing documents that streamline the subsequent immigration process. 

We are here to help you with your FOIA

Important tips:

Each federal agency handles its own FOIA requests. Currently, there are one hundred agencies subject to the FOIA with several hundred offices processing FOIA requests.
Requests will be processed more quickly if it is addressed directly to the FOIA office of the agency or agency component that has the records sought.
Processes involving U.S. immigration laws are complex. Therefore, it is always advisable to consult with a licensed attorney practicing in the U.S. who has experience in immigration law.

Processing Time:
The processing time varies according to the agency being requested. Generally, between 30 days to 12 months, depending on the particular case, the agency being requested, and the complexity of the request.

Attorney fees to request a FOIA:

Department of State USD 750
CIS or CBP USD 900

What's included:
Document analysis, preparation, consultations during pendency, entrance as the legal representative, file, monitoring, and consultation on existing possibilities, if any, after receiving the information and/or documents.

What's not included:
Any subsequent immigration process, if any, will require additional fees.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, there are some exceptions and limitations to access to information under FOIA, such as national security issues, personal privacy, confidential commercial information, and others.

Yes, you can appeal the decision of a government agency if your request for information is denied. Usually, there is an appeal process established by the agency for this purpose.

Yes, some agencies may charge a processing fee to handle FOIA requests for information. However, in certain cases, these fees may be waived or reduced.

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