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Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) and Privacy Act (“PA”)

Genesis Law Firm, PLLC has immigration lawyers in Seattle and Everett, WA.  This is a  brief guide on the Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act (“FOIA/PA”).  The FOIA/PA allows individuals and their legal representatives to request records that the government has on either the individual herself or on a third party, as long as the named individual consents in writing.

These tools are useful for immigration attorneys because oftentimes clients do not know their immigration status and/or do not have any official government paperwork to verify their immigration status.  In order to proceed in representing a client like this, an immigration lawyer will need to verify the individual’s immigration status.  This can mean the difference between success and failure in filing for immigration benefits.

Our firm regularly files FOIA/PA requests in order to obtain client information from the government.  These requests are often made to the Department of Homeland Security for USCIS files, and to Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) for land-travel records.  Certain visa records may also be obtained from the Department of State.  Other FOIA/PA requests may be made to the FBI, Department of Justice, or any other governmental agency.  Depending on the agency, FOIA/PA requests usually take from 1-12 months to obtain.

See a sample cover letter for a FOIA/PA request to USCIS.

Back to Immigration Table of Contents.

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