Request Records through the Freedom of Information Act or Privacy Act
Under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the Privacy Act (PA), you can request:
Immigration records, whether your own or someone else’s with their permission; and
Agency policies, data, communications, and other records.
How to Request and Receive Records as Quickly as Possible
Step 1: Read this entire page, to ensure you request records the right way, from the right agency.
Step 2: Confirm we have not already posted the records you need in the USCIS Electronic Reading Room.
Step 3: Plan to request only the specific documents you need. We can return precise requests much faster than an entire file.
Step 4: Make your FOIA request online to bypass mailing, paper processing, and returned mail that can add significant additional time to your request. You can also use this service to receive records online if you have already made a request by mail. See below.
Step 5: Check the status of your request online. We will email you to check your account once your files are ready to download.
|If you request||We will|
|Specific documents from an A-File||
Be able to process your request faster.
|Large portions of A-Files and non-A-File records||
Require more time compared to specific documents.
Records we do not have, or if you make the request incorrectly
|Notify you as quickly as possible.|
|An A-File, as soon as possible, because you have a scheduled hearing with an immigration judge||
Prioritize your request to deliver it faster.
You must include a copy of one of the following forms, as issued by the Department of Homeland Security or Department of Justice, with your request:
|To request||You should|
Request records online with USCIS, to instantly:
Online records are easy to:
You can receive records online even if:
|Records that are more than 100 years old|
|Accessible records under Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act||
We will contact you to assist.
||Contact U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)|
|Information about Importer Trade Activity (ITRAC)|
||Contact the U.S. Department of State|
||Contact U.S. Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE)|
|Records by methods other than our online system||
Understand that FOIA and PA requests made by mail, fax, or email cause delays for you and for USCIS. To receive FOIA records in the fastest, most convenient format we offer, make your FOIA request online. Attorneys and representatives can also make online FOIA requests on behalf of their clients.
If you, or someone representing you, requests records by these methods, you will need to:
Then, send your request by:
After we receive your request, we will send you a letter of acknowledgement, process the request and send you our response. You will receive any records we release by mail as files on a compact disk (CD).
|Records online, after you made a FOIA or PA request by mail, email, or fax||
You will need:
Then, to connect your request to your online account:
When your documents are ready, we will post them in your online account and notify you by email.
|Appeal our determination of your request||
Write a letter, known as an administrative appeal, and send it to:
USCIS FOIA/PA Appeals Office
Both your letter and its envelope should be clearly marked “Freedom of Information Act Appeal”.
|Address concerns with your request or appeal by consulting a neutral third-party||
Visit the website of the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS). OGIS offers mediation between FOIA requestors and federal agencies.
|See the status of a pending FOIA or PA request||
Check the status of the request online, whether you made it online or by another means. You will need the FOIA control number included in your receipt message.
Ask more detailed questions about our process or your pending FOIA or PA request
Email the USCIS FOIA Program, or send us a fax at 802-860-6908 or 816-350-5785. Please note that we can only answer questions about FOIA or PA requests. We cannot help with, or respond to, questions about pending applications, petitions, or any other immigration matter. For these inquiries, call the USCIS Contact Center at 800-375-5283 (TTY: 800-767-1833).