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Singh v. Dep't of State, No. 18-1210, 2020 WL 230908 (W.D. Wash. Jan. 15, 2020) (Zilly, J.)


Singh v. Dep't of State, No. 18-1210, 2020 WL 230908 (W.D. Wash. Jan. 15, 2020) (Zilly, J.)

Re:  Request for records concerning denial of immigrant visa

Disposition:  Granting defendant's motion for summary judgment

  • Procedural Requirements, Time Limits:  The court finds that "[i]t is undisputed that Defendants failed to make a determination regarding Plaintiffs' administrative appeal by the deadline set forth in 5 U.S.C. § 552."  "However, even if the delay – which lasted at least one year – is sufficiently egregious to justify relief, Plaintiffs' remedy is limited to declaratory relief that Defendants violated the statute and to Plaintiffs' ability to seek judicial review in this Court."  "Because Plaintiffs have already filed this action, any violation of the time requirement is moot, and no further declaratory relief is appropriate."
  • Litigation Considerations, Adequacy of Search:  The court holds that "[t]he Declaration explains how Defendants evaluated Plaintiffs' FOIA request, lists the different sources of data Defendants searched, and explains why those records systems were the most likely to produce responsive documents."  'The Declaration is sufficient to meet Defendants' burden under FOIA."
  • Exemption 3:  The court holds that defendant properly invoked Exemption 3.  The court relates that "8 U.S.C. § 1202(f)[, which "qualifies as an exempting statute under Exemption 3,"] prohibits the disclosure of material 'pertaining to the issuance or refusal of visas or permits to enter the United States.'"  The court finds that "[t]he FOIA request's own language requests documents that would normally fall within the ambit of 8 U.S.C. § 1202(f)."  Moreover, "[t]he Vaughn index, to which the Court affords a presumption of good faith, describes [the] documents . . . in a manner sufficiently detailed to show that those documents were properly withheld under Exemption 3 because they pertain to the issuance or refusal of a visa to enter the United States."  Finally, "[t]he Court has now reviewed the remainder of the documents [in camera] and determined that those documents were also properly excluded under Exemption 3."
Court Decision Topic(s)
Procedural Requirements, Time Limits
Exemption 3
District Court opinions
Litigation Considerations, Adequacy of Search
Updated March 4, 2020