How to Submit a FOIA Request

How to Submit a FOIA or Privacy Act Request

Privacy Act Redress

FOIA/Privacy Act Appeals


PLEASE NOTE: The Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) is NOT part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Requests regarding applications filed with DHS should not be made with EOIR and DHS forms should not be used to request records from EOIR. EOIR's FOIA Service Center is centralized and all requests for records from immigration courts must be filed at the FOIA Service Center. Requests filed with a local immigration court are not properly filed with EOIR.

For a text of applicable DOJ FOIA rules, consult the DOJ FOIA Reference Guide.

If you are seeking a copy of your (or your client's) official Record of Proceeding, please visit the ROP request information page for instructions. 

What is the Freedom of Information Act?

What are FOIA exemptions and exclusions?

Where can I find the text of the FOIA statute?

Where may I submit my request?

What information should I include?

How do I request records about myself?

How do I request the records of another person?

How can a request be made for a minor?

What does EOIR require of a someone seeking records about another person or himself?

How much does it cost to request records?

How long does it take to process requests?

Are there limits to what agencies are required to perform under FOIA?

How are FOIA requests processed?

Can I ask to have my request expedited?

Can I ask to have records about me to be corrected?

How do I check on the status of my request?

If I am not satisfied with your response, can I appeal my request?

What is the Freedom of Information Act?

The Freedom of Information Act/Privacy Act (FOIA/PA), (5 U.S.C. § 552/552a) provides that any person has a right to request access to federal agency records, except those records exempted by the Acts. In addition Congress excluded three discrete categories of law enforcement and national security records from the requirements of the FOIA. See 5 U.S.C. Section 552(c) (2006 & Supp. IV 2010). (See also http://www.justice.gov/oip/foiapost/2012foiapost9.html)

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What are FOIA exemptions and exclusions?

See https://www.foia.gov/faq.html

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Where can I find the text of the FOIA statute?

See https://www.justice.gov/oip/freedom-information-act-5-usc-552

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Where may I submit my request?

It is highly recommended that you submit your FOIA request through the Public Access Link (PAL) for the most efficient processing. If a computer is not readily available to you, you may alternatively submit your request to the following address:


Office of the General Counsel Attn: FOIA Service Center
Executive Office for Immigration Review
5107 Leesburg Pike, Suite 2150
Falls Church, VA 22041

 

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What information should I include?

A FOIA request should reasonably describe the records sought and include identifying information. For example, if a FOIA request seeks a record of proceedings, your request, if possible, should include the alien's full name, aliases, immigration hearing location, and alien registration (A) number (if known). If the A number is not known or the case occurred before 1988, please provide the date of the Order to Show Cause, the country of origin, and the location of the immigration hearing.

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How do I request records about myself?

To ensure that privacy protected information is not improperly released, a request seeking records regarding yourself must verify your identity. The FOIA Service Center recommends submitting an originally signed and dated DOJ-361 Form Certification of Identity

Alternate Certification: when you are requesting your own records, you may verify your identity using your: (1) full name; (2) current address; (3) date and place of birth; and either:
  a. A notarized signature; or
  b. This statement immediately above your signature: “I declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct. Executed on [date]."

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How do I request the records of another person?

Requests for information about a person other than the requester require proper authorization allowing release of the information. If you are seeking nonpublic information, such as the record of proceedings before an immigration court regarding a person that is not you or a person you represent, the FOIA Service Center recommends that you include in your request an authorization to release information from the person who is the subject of the request or an explanation about how the public interest outweighs the privacy interest of the subject of the record. The FOIA Service Center recommends having the person who is the subject of the request complete, sign and date Form EOIR-59, Certification and Release of Records for this purpose. If you are the attorney of record, you may wish to provide evidence of that fact, such as a valid entry of appearance, Form EOIR-27 or Form EOIR-28.

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How can a request be made for a minor?

A minor may make a FOIA request for him or herself. If a minor is too young to make a request, an attorney, parent, or guardian may make a request on behalf of a minor. Attorneys, parents, and guardians may not sign a child's name but rather must sign their own name on behalf of the child. Additionally, anyone signing on behalf of a child must provide further evidence of authority. Attorneys must provide proof of a court appointment, court order, appointment by a federal agency, or other proof of attorney-client relationship. A parent signing for a minor who is not attached to the minor's immigration record must provide proof of present status of parentage, such as a birth certificate, adoption decree, or other legal document. A guardian must provide proof of legal guardianship, such as a court order or other legal document. A parent and a guardian must additionally verify their identity using their (1) full name; (2) current address; (3) date and place of birth; and either:
  a. A notarized signature; or
  b. This statement immediately above their signature: “I declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct. Executed on [date]."

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What does EOIR require of someone seeking records about another person or himself?

Please be sure that verification of identity and/or authorization to release, as appropriate, is/are enclosed when you mail your FOIA request. Failure to provide a signed verification of identity or authorization to release information, as appropriate, may impede EOIR’s release of information if the disclosure would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy. Additionally, please note that prior to releasing any information, EOIR will assess the applicability of all FOIA exemptions.

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How much does it cost to request records?

Except for commercial requesters, there is no charge for the first 100 pages of reproduction and 2 hours of search time. After the first 100 pages, and 2 hours of search time, a fee of $.05 per page is charged. Search fees are charged per quarter hour; $4.75 (administrative), and $10.00 (professional). Fees must exceed $25.00 before a fee is charged. Additionally, an agency may charge for the retrieval of records stored at a National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) operated records center and the direct costs associated with scanning the responsive records. Requests are deemed to constitute an agreement to pay any applicable fees that may be charged up to $25 without notice. Most requests do not require any fees; however, if fees exceed $25.00, we will notify you prior to completion of the request. You must agree to pay, or EOIR will not release the records. See 28 C.F.R. § 16.10.

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How long does it take to process requests?

The period for determining whether to comply with a request is 20 working days and may be extended to 30 working days when there is a need to search and collect information from a field office; when there is a need to search and collect voluminous records; or when there is a need for consultation within the agency or among two or more agencies. 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(6)(A)(i).

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Are there limits to what agencies are required to perform under FOIA?

The FOIA does not require agencies to create new records or to conduct research, analyze data, or answer questions when responding to requests.

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How are FOIA requests processed?

EOIR FOIA requests are placed in one of three tracks. Track one is for those requests that seek and receive expedited processing pursuant to subsection (a)(6)(E) of the FOIA. Track two is for simple requests that do not involve voluminous records or lengthy consultations with other entities.  Track three is for complex requests that involve voluminous records and for which lengthy or numerous consultations are required or those requests that may involve sensitive records.

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Can I ask to have my request expedited?

To have a FOIA request expedited, your request must demonstrate a compelling need such as: (1) imminent threat to the life or physical safety of an individual; (2) an urgency to inform the public concerning actual or alleged Federal Government activity if the request is made by a person primarily engaged in disseminating information; (3) loss of substantial due process rights; or (4) a matter of widespread and exceptional media interest in which there exist possible questions about the government's integrity which affect public confidence.

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Can I ask to have records about me to be corrected?

The Privacy Act provides a United States citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident the opportunity to correct or amend records that are retrieved by name or other personal identifier in a system of records maintained by EOIR. See 28 C.F.R. § 16.46. Please note that, pursuant to 28 C.F.R. §§16.83 and 16.84, the Privacy Act cannot be used as a correction mechanism for "official records," i.e., information contained in a records of proceeding OR EOIR record of proceedings (ROP).
Requests for amendment of correction of records should be marked PRIVACY ACT AMENDMENT REQUEST and addressed to:

Office of the General Counsel
Attn: Privacy Act Officer
Executive Office for Immigration Review
5107 Leesburg Pike, Suite 2150
Falls Church, VA 22041

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How do I check on the status of my request?

To follow up on the status of a FOIA request, log into your PAL account or call 703-605-1297 and ask to speak to the FOIA Officer assigned to your request or the FOIA Public Liaison. Additional information on FOIA procedures can be found here.

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If I am not satisfied with your response, can I appeal my request?

If you are not satisfied with EOIR's response to your FOIA request, you may file an appeal with the Office of Information Policy (OIP), United States Department of Justice. OIP's address is as follows:

Office of Information Policy (OIP)
United States Department of Justice
6th Floor, 441 G Street, NW
Washington, DC 20530

Your appeal must be post marked or transmitted electronically within 90 days of the date of EOIR's FOIA response. Appeals may be filed here.

See 28 C.F.R. § 16.8.


Additionally, mediation services are available through the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) to resolve disputes between requesters and agencies, as a non-exclusive alternative to litigation. Click here

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Please read our Privacy and Security Notice


 

Updated January 25, 2023

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