Labor Immigration Law

United States Labor Immigration Law News and Analysis

FOIA Articles

DOJ Releases FOIA Guidelines Favoring Disclosure and Transparency

The Department of Justice has released a new set of Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) guidelines that direct all executive branch departments (DHS and USCIS including) to apply a presumption of openness when administering FOIA.

The new FOIA guidelines address both application of the presumption of disclosure and the effective administration of the FOIA across the entire government. As  to the presumption of disclosure, the Attorney General directs agencies not to withhold records simply because they can technically do so. In his memo, the Attorney General encourages agencies to make discretionary disclosures of records and to release records in part whenever they cannot be released in full.

We are hopeful that this memo and the new FOIA guidelines will allow faster and more efficient processing of FOIA requests submitted to USCIS for production of case files.

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FOIA Online Status Check

USCIS recently announced the launch of the online FOIA status check.  The system is designed to provide a secure way for FOIA petitioners to check the status on their request.

While the information provided by the system is not very detailed, it nonetheless is bound to eliminate a large number of status check calls to USCIS’s FOIA request service center. There are 110,000 annual FOIA requests and the amount of status request calls they generate creates a heavy burden on USCIS.

Customers can use the online service anytime by entering their assigned control number to receive an immediate response on the status of their FOIA request. The customer will then receive either a ‘pending’ or ‘processed’ response. A pending response indicates to the customer the position of their request relative to all other requests in the same processing track. A ‘processed’ request indicates that the request was processed and the customer will be provided that processing date. USCIS will make daily updates to the status information.

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