\ afm \ Adjudicator's Field Manual - Redacted Public Version \ Chapter 10 An Overview of the Adjudication Process. \ 10.13 Public Copies of Decisions.
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10.13 Public Copies of Decisions.
Under the Freedom of Information Act
is required to maintain a public reading room. The location of the
reading room is in the Headquarters Building,
Washington, D.C. In addition to general reference materials about the immigration laws, each office is required to maintain public copies, with identifying details blacked out, of decisions on various types of cases. It is not required that public copies be made of every decision. Public copies of orders need not be prepared and filed in the public reading rooms when it is readily known, without research, that an identical order has been prepared and filed in a similar case.
is also making available on the
Internet web site much of the information which is available in public reading rooms. [See
8 CFR 103.9
Deletion of Identifying Data
Deletions of identifying data shall not be made on "public copies" (copies which must be made available for inspection and copying by the public) of orders in proceedings which are open to the public or in an administrative fine case.
In any other proceeding in which the order must be made available to the public, the names and addresses of the applicant, petitioner, beneficiary, and witnesses shall be deleted from the public copies. The foregoing are not intended to be exclusive. Other data which would make the individual readily identifiable, such as his or her present place of employment, should also be deleted. Deletions shall be accomplished by painting over the data to be deleted with a black felt marker (deletions may also be ma
de electronically if the denial is generated by a word processor); care shall be taken to assure that none of the deleted material is visible. Each public copy shall be stamped in the lower left corner, "Identifying data deleted to prevent clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy."
Deletion of identifying data and stamping will be the responsibility of the following:
(1) The district director or service center director, whenever an order rendered by him or her, or by an officer in charge within the geographical area over which the district director has jurisdiction has become final;
(2) The immigration judge, whenever an order rendered has become final; and
(3) The officer in charge outside the United States, whenever an order rendered has become final.
Under its procedure, the Board of Immigration Appeals performs the required deletions and stamping whenever the Board renders a final order on appeal or certification.
When deletions of names and addresses from the public copies are required under this instruction, the appellate authority will accomplish the deletions and stamp the public copies of the order entered by that authority, as well as the copies of the initial decisions. This will insure that identical deletions are made on all copies.
Preparation of Public Copies of Initial Decisions Which Are Appealed or Certified
Upon appeal or certification to the AAO, two copies of the initial decision stamped "PUBLIC COPY" in the upper right hand corner shall accompany the record of proceeding (in addition to the signed record copy of that decision) when the case is forwarded to the AAO. Upon appeal or certification to the Board of Immigration Appeals, one copy of the initial decision shall be so stamped and shall accompany the record of proceeding when the case is forwarded to the Board of Immigration Appeals; this copy is in a
ddition to the one described in the procedures for certification.
The appellate authority will transmit to the office of origin a public copy of the appellate decision, to which the appellate authority will attach a public copy of the initial decision.
Coding of Orders
To facilitate sorting and filing of orders (whether granted or denied) in the reading room or area, each public copy shall be coded by the transmitting office at the upper left of the first page in accordance with the alphabetical letter listed in
Distribution of Public Copies
When an order has become final, one public copy shall be forwarded expeditiously to Headquarters. Copies from the district directors, officers in charge or immigration judges shall be forwarded through the regional office. Service center copies shall be forwarded directly to Headquarters.
When any order entered by a
office outside the United States has become final, public copies with appropriate deletions and stamps, shall be forwarded expeditiously, through the district office, to Headquarters. Service offices outside the United States shall not retain a public copy of orders, as such offices are not required to make copies available, but shall maintain log copies for internal audit purposes separated by category of case and kept chronologically for two years.
Under its procedures, the Board of Immigration Appeals retains one public copy of each of its final orders which must be made available to the public, and transmits one public copy to the district office of origin.
Whenever a decision is made by an officer (including an immigration judge) on a motion or on a renewed application, a notation reading "Prior decision (date of prior decision)" shall be made on the public copies of the subsequent decision, immediately below the alphabetical letter designation assigned to that category of orders, before those copies are sent to the public reading rooms.
When an order which must be made available for inspection by the public is not on 8 1/2" x 11 " sheets of paper, the public copies shall be machine-reproduced on sheets of paper that size before they are distributed.
Maintenance of Opinions and Orders in Public Reading Rooms
Public copies of unpublished decisions shall be filed in chronological sequence by category of case, and shall be maintained in the reading room or area where the public may inspect them in Headquarters. Hardcover, looseleaf, three-ring binders shall be used to house the orders, or they will be made electronically available on-line. If the volume of orders in any category is large enough to so warrant, a separate binder shall be maintained for each such category. On the other hand, if the volume in any s
uccessively lettered categories as listed above does not warrant a separate binder, several such categories separated by dividers may be included in a single binder. The spine (back) of each looseleaf binder shall be appropriately labeled.
When a public copy of a decision by an officer (including an immigration judge) is received for filing in a public reading room, and the public copy bears a notation reading "Prior decision (date of decision)", the prior decision referred to shall be removed from the chronological sequence in which it had been filed, shall be stapled behind the subsequent decision, and both decisions shall then be filed in the appropriate category, chronologically according to the date of the subsequent decision.
Similarly when a district office receives a public copy of a Board of Immigration Appeals decision, that decision shall be examined to see whether it grants or denies an application or petition which the district director had previously denied. If it does, and if the public copy of the district director's decision has been sent previously to the public reading room, before the public copy of the Board's decision is filed in the public reading room, a notation "Prior decision (date of prior decision)" shall
be inserted on that copy, immediately below the alphabetical letter designation accorded to the Board's decision, and the prior decision shall be disposed of in the same manner indicated in the preceding paragraph. The same action shall be taken with respect to public copies of Board decisions in fine proceedings.
Assistance to the Public in Locating Orders
When a member of the public requests access to a copy of an order relating to a specifically named individual, he or she shall be informed of the manner in which public copies of decisions are filed and informed that identifying data is deleted to prevent unwarranted invasion of personal privacy except when the decision is entered in an expulsion, naturalization, or administrative fine proceeding, or any other proceeding that was open to the public. If a member of the public nevertheless states that he or s
he desires to see an unpublished decision relating to a specifically named individual in a type of case in which identifying data is deleted from the public copy of the decision, he or she shall be advised to file an application under the Freedom of Information Act as provided in
8 CFR 103.10
The following are not decisions within the meaning of 8 CFR 103.9 and , therefore, are not available to the public:
(1) Notices of approval or denial communicated to an applicant or petitioner by a form on which only a preprinted or stamped item is checked or inserted (e.g., Forms I-541, I-542, I-171, I-180). However, a form on which the reason for decision has been typed because the preprinted or stamped items do not apply, is not exempt from being made available for public inspection;
(2) Notations by check mark, stamp or other brief endorsement on an application or petition showing approval or denial;
(3) Memoranda of creation of records of lawful permanent residence (Forms
(4) Immigration offices' admission stamp on immigrant visas, passports or Forms I-94;
(5) Notices of voidance of nonresident alien border crossing cards bearing a stamped reason for such voidance;
(6) Reports and recommendations on page 4 of Form
, on Form N-600A, on Form N-635, and on any other similar form relating to the disposition of an application for a certificate of citizenship under section 341 of the Act or under any predecessor statute, including those which are supported by a supplementary report;
(7) Reports and recommendations completed on preprinted Form N-580, Application for a Certificate of Naturalization or Repatriation; Form N-577, Application for a Special Certificate of Naturalization; Form
, Application for a New Naturalization or Citizenship Paper; Form
, Application for Transfer of Petition for Naturalization; Form
, Application to Preserve Residence for Naturalization Purposes; and on any preprinted form used for the purpose of cancelling a certificate of citizenship under section
of the Act on the sole ground that respondent has confessed alienage;
(8) Memoranda of designated examiners and regional directors pursuant to
8 CFR 335.12
(9) Summary decisions of immigration judges, and oral opinions dictated into the record by an immigration judge and not transcribed.
Cases Involving National Security, Foreign Policy and Confidentially Furnished Information
Cases involving national security, foreign policy and confidentially furnished information, and for that reason, orders of grant or denial in such cases shall not be made available.
Decisions Involving Waiver of Foreign Residence Requirement for Exchange Aliens
A copy of each letter notifying an applicant of the approval of his application for a waiver of the foreign residence requirement under section
of the Act on the basis of exceptional hardship or persecution shall be processed and forwarded to the reading room in the manner set forth above. In addition, there shall be attached a copy of the director's request for the recommendation of the Department of State. Similarly, when a letter denying a waiver is sent to an applicant, the reason for denial shall be given and a copy of the letter shall be routed to the reading room. If a request was made for the State Department's recommendation, a copy o
f the request shall be attached to the reading-room copy of the denial letter.
A copy of each letter notifying an alien of the approval or denial of a section
waiver, based upon the request of an interested government agency or based upon a written statement of the alien's country of nationality or last residence that it has no objection to the waiver, shall be processed and forwarded to the reading room in the manner set forth above.