9.2 – Requests

(a) Contact

For detailed guidance on how to file a FOIA request, individuals requesting information under the Freedom of Information Act should consult EOIR's FOIA website or contact the EOIR FOIA unit.  See Appendix A (Directory).

(b) Who May File

     (1) Parties

          (A) Inspecting the record - Parties to a proceeding and their legal representatives may inspect the official record of proceedings.  A FOIA request is not required.  Inspection by prior arrangement with the immigration court staff or the Board Clerk’s Office, whichever has control over the record, is strongly recommended to ensure that the official record of proceedings is immediately available.  Parties to proceedings before the immigration courts may make arrangements with the relevant immigration court staff by using the following email model:  “EOIR.xyz.ROP.Requests@usdoj.gov” where the “xyz” represents the relevant immigration court’s three-letter code.  See Appendix Q (Immigration Court Three Letter Codes).  Parties to proceedings before the BIA may make arrangements by calling the Clerk’s Office.  See Appendix A (Directory).  EOIR prohibits the removal of official records by parties or other persons from EOIR-controlled space.

          (B) Copies of the record - Both the BIA and the immigration courts will provide copies of the official record of proceedings to parties and their representatives 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).  Requests for copies of the official records of proceedings may be made to the immigration courts in person, by mail, or via email.  See email address model in Additional Reference Materials, paragraph (A), above, to contact the relevant immigration court.  To request a copy from the BIA, email "EOIR.BIA.ROP.Requests@usdoj.gov".  Neither the immigration courts nor the Board provide self-service copying.        

          (C) Non-parties - Persons who are not a party to a proceeding must file a FOIA request with the EOIR Office of the General Counsel if they wish to obtain copies of the record of proceeding.

(c) Location

Individuals may submit FOIA requests through EOIR's Public Access Link (PAL). PAL provides accelerated processing and delivery of EOIR's response to FOIA and PA requests, however, EOIR will still accept requests via postal mail. While not preferred, individuals may submit FOIA/PA requests via postal mail. The address can be found on EOIR's Freedom of Information Act website.

(d) Form

EOIR does not have an official form for filing FOIA requests. Individuals should not use the DHS Freedom of Information/Privacy Act Request (Form G-639) to file such requests.

(e) Information Required

FOIA 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 noncitizen in removal proceedings, the request should contain the full name and A-Number of that noncitizen.  The more precise and comprehensive the information provided in the FOIA request, the better and more expeditiously OGC can process the request.

(f) Fee

There is no fee to file a FOIA request, but EOIR may charge a fee to locate, review, and reproduce the records.  See 28 C.F.R. § 16.10.

(g) Processing Times

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

(h) When to File

     (1) Timing - Individuals should file a FOIA request as soon as possible, especially when a party is facing a filing deadline.  Parties should not wait until receiving a briefing schedule or other timeline from the immigration court or the BIA 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 regardless of the timeliness of the request for FOIA materials.

(i) Limitations

     (1) Statutory exemptions - FOIA laws exempt certain information in agency records, such as classified material and information that would cause a clearly-unwarranted invasion of personal privacy, from release under FOIA.  See 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(1)-(9).  Where appropriate, OGC will redact (i.e., remove or black out) such information and provide a copy of the redacted record to the requesting party.  If material is redacted, OGC staff will indicate the applicable exemptions for the redaction.

     (2) Agency's duty - The FOIA statute does not require the EOIR, its OGC, the immigration courts, or the BIA to perform legal research, nor does it entitle the requesting person to copies of documents that are available for sale or on the Internet.


Updated December 1, 2022