Ever curious to find out what information the government has about you? For most immigrants, this may be a serious issue especially if they have pending applications. Foreign nationals looking for a work or a school visa may get denied because the government relies on previous information that they have about you. Luckily, the freedom of information act (FOIA) allows you to see what the US immigration officials have on you. With Form G-639, you can request a copy of your immigration files or that of another person if they consent. A FOIA request can be instrumental in the completion of your immigration case.
A FOIA request can be a great tool when making an immigration application. It not only prepares you for the process but also lets you know the proper recourse to take. FOIA requests are particularly important in applications that assess your extended history. For example, US immigration officials will want to know everything about you during the naturalization process. If you are in the removal proceedings or face a threat to your liberty then this can be important. Knowing the information that the government is relying on can help you put up a great defense.
While you have a right to access the information that the government has about you, you may not see everything on the file. The immigration officials will often cross out some parts of the file. This may include the names of USCIS officials or information about other people. Moreover, there are instances where making a FOIA request may not be the best option you have. A request takes some time and it may come after your application has been already processed.
Making a FOIA request may not be a complicated task, as long as you follow the form G-639 instructions. Here are a couple of tips to help you with your FOIA request.
It is important that you first understand the kind of information that you need before making the request. This will help you when filling the G 639 form. It will also let you know whether you are looking for the right information in the right place. It is not uncommon for people to make a FOIA request only to find out the file does not have their desired information. After waiting months. If you want to do a background check for any convictions then this may not be the best option. Instead, you should file a request with the FBI. An experienced immigration attorney can help you to identify the right information. They will also give you guidance on the best place to file your application.
Filing form G-639 at the right agency increases your chance of getting a favorable decision. In most cases, you will have to file a FOIA request directly to the USCIS. That said, there are some records that are kept by the US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and US Customs and Border Protection (CBP). These may include entry and exit manifests, charges of deportation, and customs records among others.
You will have to note down the reason why you are making the request in your form G-639. This is also an important part since it can help you expedite your request. You can ask immigration officials to fast-track your application if you are facing threat to life or liberty. Asylum-seekers, for example, may apply to expedite their application. They will send your A-file in 20 to 30 days.
Filing form G-639 is pretty simple. You can find the form online on USCIS’s website. You should, however, remember that the person whose records you are seeking should give you consent through a sworn affidavit or before a notary public.
Making this request will also not cost you much. Immigration officials will offer you the first 100 pages of the records free of charge. As long as it is for a personal and non-commercial requester. In fact, digitally scanned copies of your files can be submitted to you free of charge too. The total fees for searches, duplication, and review may total up to $25.
While filing a FOIA is relatively simple, the benefit of using a lawyer is in reviewing what you receive. After all, if you cannot understand and interpret what you receive, there is little point in asking for it in the first place. An immigration attorney knows all the ins and outs of immigration and will help you deal with any agency. With a combined experience of more than 30 years, HMA Law is best suited to handle all your immigration needs. Call us today for a consultation.