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Chapter 2 - Record of Proceeding

A. Maintaining a Record of Proceeding

A record of proceeding is the organized, official material constituting the record of any application, petition, hearing, or other proceeding before USCIS. A record of proceeding is typically contained within an Alien Registration File (A-File) or other agency file or electronic case management system, or a hybrid paper and electronic file.[1]

B. A-Files

A-files are a series of records maintained on an alien that document the alien’s immigration history. A-files are created when an application or petition for a long-term or permanent benefit is received, or when enforcement action is initiated.

A-files may exist in physical format, or they may be created in digital format in various electronic case management systems, or they may be a hybrid of both paper and electronic files.[2]

A-files are stored and maintained by Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for aliens born less than 100 years ago. For aliens born 100 years ago or more, A-files are transferred to and stored by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).


[^ 1] Information contained in a record of proceeding is protected by the Privacy Act. For more information on the Privacy Act and confidentiality provisions, see Part A, Public Services, Chapter 7, Privacy and Confidentiality, [1 USCIS-PM A.7].

[^ 2] Digitized A-files may exist in the Enterprise Document Management System (EDMS) or STACKS.


Legal Authorities

44 U.S.C. 31 - Federal Records Act of 1950, as amended - Records management by federal agencies

5 U.S.C. 552 - Freedom of Information Act - Public information; agency rules, opinions, orders, records, and proceedings

5 U.S.C. 552a - Privacy Act of 1974, as amended - Records maintained on individuals

8 CFR 103.2 - Submission and adjudication of benefit requests

Delegation of Authority 0150.1 - Delegation to the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services

INA 103, 8 CFR 103 - Powers and duties of the Secretary, the Under Secretary, and the Attorney General

INA 291 - Burden of proof upon alien

Pub. L. 107-296 (PDF) - Homeland Security Act of 2002


No forms available at this time.


No appendices available at this time.


Technical Update - Moving the Adjudicator’s Field Manual Content into the USCIS Policy Manual

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating and incorporating relevant Adjudicator’s Field Manual (AFM) content into the USCIS Policy Manual. As that process is ongoing, USCIS has moved any remaining AFM content to its corresponding USCIS Policy Manual Part, in PDF format, until relevant AFM content has been properly incorporated into the USCIS Policy Manual. To the extent that a provision in the USCIS Policy Manual conflicts with remaining AFM content or Policy Memoranda, the updated information in the USCIS Policy Manual prevails. To find remaining AFM content, see the crosswalk (PDF, 327.05 KB) between the AFM and the Policy Manual.

Technical Update - Incorporating Existing Guidance into the Policy Manual

This technical update is part of an initiative to move existing policy guidance from the Adjudicator’s Field Manual (AFM) into the Policy Manual. This update does not make major substantive changes but consolidates and incorporates existing AFM guidance into the Policy Manual, streamlining USCIS’ immigration policy while removing obsolete information. This guidance replaces Chapters 1, 3.4, 10.2, 10.3(a), 10.3(c), 10.3(e), 10.3(i), 10.4, 10.22, 11.1(c), 13, 14, 17, 23.8, 31.7, 33.10, 34.5, 35, 41.6, 42, 44, 56.1, 56.3, 56.4, 62, 81, 82, 83.1, 83.2, and 83.3 of the AFM, related appendices, and policy memoranda.

Technical Update - Replacing the Term “Foreign National”

This technical update replaces all instances of the term “foreign national” with “alien” throughout the Policy Manual as used to refer to a person who meets the definition provided in INA 101(a)(3) [“any person not a citizen or national of the United States”].