IRAP Publishes Government Documents on Getting Crucial Information on Your Files Through FOIA

HomeNews & EventsIRAP Publishes Government Documents on Getting Crucial Information on Your Files Through FOIA

Immigration News & Events



IRAP Publishes Government Documents on Getting Crucial Information on Your Files Through FOIA

Share This Post: facebooktwitterLinkedIn

Individuals with potential immigration applications or cases in immigration court need to have the most accurate information possible on their immigration history. Because immigration files on individuals can span decades and often consist of hundreds or thousands of pages housed within different federal agencies, they often need to request copies of files through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Though FOIA is designed to allow the public access to records kept by the government quickly and efficiently, agencies’ delay and lack of compliance have long been a source of frustration, including for noncitizens seeking access to their records for immigration purposes.

The International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) recently published records it obtained through FOIA and through litigation related to the processing of FOIA requests by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and Department of State (DOS).

The documents obtained by IRAP included important findings for those seeking records from immigration agencies:

  • USCIS generally houses an I-130 petition in the file of the beneficiary, not the petitioner.
  • USCIS generally considers certain documents, including I-130 petitioners, I-131 applications, and I-765 applications as being “stand-alone” filings which will not be kept in the “A-file.” FOIA requests for the A-file will therefore not include such filings and requesters will need to request all documents showing the subject’s name or will need to request those applications separately.
  • Requests for copies of applications or petitions will not by default produce related records or supporting documents. Requests should explicitly ask for related records and supporting documents to get fuller disclosures.
  • DOS will generally only provide records to a FOIA requester if the record was originally produced by that requester. As published by IRAP, DOS refers to a “Releasable Documents Chart” which tells FOIA processers when records in DOS files can be released to a petitioner, a visa applicant, or both.

Having a complete understanding of a noncitizen’s immigration history is crucial to assessing challenges to deportability or inadmissibility and in preparing applications for immigration benefits. Kudos to IRAP for its resolve to obtain and to publish these records, which immediately become an indispensable resource for crafting FOIA requests, appealing insufficient agency productions, and in FOIA-related immigration.

On December 21, 2023, the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) issued a memorandum, effective immediately, providing important guidance for cases in immigration courts where the lead or sole respondent…


With this year’s H-1B lottery right around the corner, USCIS is pushing out new updates and new policies that will have a major impact on the way the lottery is…



Recognized Leaders In
Immigration Law

Joseph & Hall P.C. is a full-service immigration law firm. We pride ourselves on being nationwide experts in all areas of immigration law, including the practice areas listed below. Our attorneys frequently are asked to speak both locally and nationally on a wide variety of immigration topics. For an overview of each practice area, please click the links below. If you have any questions about how these practice areas may apply to your case, please do not hesitate to contact our firm.


We Are Committed to Your Dreams.

Countless people dream of becoming a U.S. citizen. If your application was rejected by the USCIS, we are here to fight for your best interests.

Get in touch with us. Write us a message.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Tap Here To Schedule An Appointment
It's Fast & Easy