Success! We recently had a FOIA request approved by USCIS and DOS. In this case, the FOIA request was approved by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and responsive documents were produced within 2 months. The Department of State (DOS) responded to the FOIA request within 6 months. The FOIA requests were sent on behalf of an individual in order to collect immigration documents and information to document a change of name before governmental agencies in a foreign country.
FOIA requests are used to collect documents and information about a person from US government agencies in order to support requests for immigration benefits or to use them in a foreign country.
Generally, you can direct FOIA requests to:
- Other government agencies
What is a FOIA request?
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) allows any person to request access to information and records from federal agencies. FOIA can be used to secure immigration records, seek information about agency operations, or obtain data from government agencies.
However, you cannot use FOIA to request information and records held by Congress, the courts, state or local government agencies or private agencies such as jails or prisons.
Who can make a FOIA request?
Any person can make a FOIA request to a federal agency, including an individual, partnership, corporation, association, or public or private organization other than an agency, regardless of their immigration status.
A federal agency will provide records to any person who:
- reasonably describes the records they are seeking; and
- submits the request in accordance with agency rules
What should be included in a FOIA request?
You can request any agency records in a FOIA request as long as you reasonably describe them and you comply with the respective agency’s rules regarding the time, place, fees (if any), and procedures to be followed.
In a FOIA request, you should provide detailed information about the requested records including:
- Title or name
- Recipient and
- Subject matter of the record
In general, the more specific you are about the records you want to obtain, the more likely it is that the federal agency will be able to narrow the search and locate them. If you are unsure about the exact information or records you are looking for in a FOIA request, you can also state the purpose of your request and what you are trying to achieve to assist the government agency in locating documents relevant to your inquiry.
Can FOIA request be denied?
Yes, FOIA requests can be denied.
How long does a FOIA request take?
All federal agencies are required to respond to a FOIA request within 20 business days unless there are unusual circumstances. However, the agencies are not required to produce the information or documents within 20 business days, but instead they are required to:
- Inform you of a determination to comply with the request;
- State the reasons for the determination; and
- Inform you of the right to seek assistance from the FOIA Liaison Office of the specific agency
After the agency determines that it will comply with the FOIA request, then it must make the records promptly available. The time it takes to process a FOIA request and produce the information and documents depends on the federal agency and its workload. Expedited processing is available if you have a compelling need for the requested information.
Generally, USCIS takes anywhere from 1 to 2 months to respond to a FOIA request and produce records.
FOIA requests submitted with DOS can take 4 to 6 months.
Malescu Law can assist
Our experienced immigration lawyers in Miami, Florida USA can assist individuals and companies with FOIA requests and requests under the Privacy Act to obtain information and records from federal agencies such as USCIS, CBP, DOS and others. Contact us today or schedule a consultation.
Malescu Law P.A. – Business & Immigration Lawyers