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Chapter 13 - Requesting Records

13.2 - Requests

(a) Who May File  

                     (1) Parties  

(A) Inspecting the record — Parties to a proceeding, and their practitioners of record, may inspect the official record of proceedings.  A FOIA request is not required. Inspection by prior arrangement with the Board Clerk’s Office is strongly recommended to ensure that the official record of proceedings is immediately available.  See Chapter 1.5(d) (Records).  Parties to a proceeding before the Board may request inspection by calling the Clerk’s Office.  See Appendix A (Directory).  Parties may review all portions of the record that are not prohibited (e.g., classified information, documents under a protective order).  EOIR prohibits the removal of official records by parties or other persons from EOIR-controlled space.

(B) Obtaining copies of record  The Board does not automatically provide a copy of the official record of proceedings to the parties to the proceedings upon the filing of an appeal or motion.  The Clerk’s Office will provide copies of the official record of proceedings to parties and their practitioners of record upon request.  A FOIA request is not required.  Parties may obtain a copy of all portions of the record that are not prohibited (e.g., classified information, documents under a protective order).  See Chapter 1.5(e) (Records).  To request a copy from the BIA, email “EOIR.BIA.ROP.Requests@usdoj.gov”.  This email address is only to be used for requests for a copy of the official record.  The Board does not provide self-service copying.

          (2) Non-parties  Persons who are not party to a proceeding before the Board must file a request with the Office of the General Counsel, Executive Office for Immigration Review, if they wish to see or obtain copies of the record of proceedings.

(b) How to File — 

          (1) Form — FOIA requests must be made in writing.  See 28 C.F.R. § 16.1 et seq.  Although the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) does not have an official form for filing FOIA requests, the Form EOIR-59, Certification and Release of Records, can be used in conjunction with a FOIA request when requesting third party information.  See Appendix D (Forms).  The Department of Homeland Security Freedom of Information/Privacy Act Request (Form G-639) should not be used to file such requests.  Requests may be submitted through the Public Access Link available on EOIR’s website or may be mailed to:

U.S. Department of Justice
Executive Office for Immigration Review
Office of the General Counsel – FOIA Service Center
FOIA/Privacy Act Requests
5107 Leesburg Pike, Suite 2150
Falls Church, VA 22041

For more information, contact the EOIR FOIA Service Center.  See Appendix A (Directory).

          (2) Information required — Requests should thoroughly describe the records sought and include as much identifying information as possible regarding names, dates, subject matter, and location of proceedings.  For example, if a request pertains to a respondent in removal proceedings, the request should contain the full name and A-number of that respondent.  The more precise and comprehensive the information provided in the FOIA request, the better and more expeditiously the request can be processed.

          (3) Fee — There is no fee to file a FOIA request, but fees may be charged for the review, search, and reproduction of records.  See 28 C.F.R. § 16.3(c).

          (4) Processing times  Processing times for FOIA requests vary, depending on such factors as the nature of the request and the location of the record.

(c) When to File  

          (1) Time — A FOIA request should be filed as soon as possible, especially when a party is facing a filing deadline.  Parties should not wait to receive a briefing schedule or other response from the Board before submitting a FOIA request.

          (2) Effect on filing deadlines — Parties should not delay the filing of an appeal, motion, brief, or other document while awaiting a response to a FOIA request.  Failure to receive FOIA materials prior to a filing deadline does not excuse the party from meeting a filing deadline.

          (d) Limitations  

          (1) Statutory exemptions — Certain information in agency records, such as classified material and information that would cause a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy, is exempted from release under the Freedom of Information Act.  5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(1)-(9).  Where appropriate, records of redacted (e.g., removed or cut out) and copies of the redacted material are provided to the requested person.  When material is redacted, the reason or reasons for the redaction are indicated.

          (2) Agency’s duty — The FOIA statute does not require the Executive Office for Immigration Review, its Office of the General Counsel, or the Board to perform legal research, nor does it entitle the requesting person to copies of documents that are available for sale or on the internet.

          (3) Subject’s consent — When a FOIA request seeks information that is exempt from disclosure on the grounds of personal privacy, the subject of the record (e.g., the respondent, the petitioner, the carrier) must consent in writing to the release of that information.