How to Request Immigration Records Through a FOIA Request
Learn how to submit a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain information about your immigration case
Depending on the type of petition you’ve filed, or how complex your specific case may be, immigration processing times can be lengthy and difficult to navigate without timely updates.
If your immigration or visa application is taking a long time to process, there are steps you can take to receive more detailed updates from the government. One such option is filing a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for information about your case. FOIA allows anyone to request records from any U.S. federal agency, including U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
In this guide, we’ll cover how to submit a FOIA request with USCIS and what to expect during the process.
Boundless has helped more than 100,000 people navigate the immigration process and we can help you too.
What Information Can I Access With a FOIA Request?
Under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the Privacy Act (PA), you can request the following information from USCIS:
- Your own immigration records and documents, including previous forms, petitions, adjudications, and other notices
- Someone else’s immigration records documents (only if you have the individual’s written permission)
- USCIS policies, data, communications, and other records
Certain travel records and records related to immigration detention can only be accessed by contacting U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) or the U.S. Department of State. Be sure to check USCIS’ FOIA page to see which agency you will need to contact for your specific request.
How to Submit a FOIA Request
USCIS highly encourages all applicants to submit a FOIA request online through their online FOIA service. Filing your request online will avoid processing delays and any errors during the mailing process.
Applicants can submit a FOIA request through their existing USCIS account. Login to your USCIS online account and follow the instructions here.
With USCIS’ online FOIA service, you can do the following:
- Submit your FOIA request to USCIS instantly
- Track the progress of your FOIA request online
- Receive USCIS’ response quickly
- Download your requested records at any time
To speed up the process, and avoid any unnecessary delays, make sure to keep the following notes in mind:
- Make sure USCIS hasn’t already posted the requested records in its Electronic Reading Room
- Only request the specific records you need to speed up response time
What Happens Next
USCIS will notify you by email when your records are ready. If you have questions about a pending request, you can email the USCIS FOIA program at email@example.com or send a fax to 802-860-6908 or 816-350-5785.
Appeals and Disputes
If you’d like to appeal or dispute USCIS’ response to your request, you can write a letter marked “Freedom of Information Act Appeal” and send it to:
USCIS FOIA/PA Appeals Office
150 Space Center Loop, Suite 500
Lee’s Summit, MO