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Everything you need to know about FOIA requests

What is a FOIA request?

FOIA stands for Freedom of Information Act. It’s a law that allows you to access information from the federal government. Through this request, you can get records from any federal agency. Any person who wants to start any immigration process should always start by requesting the government all the information they have has about them, to have a full picture of their situation and the next steps to take.
It can be helpful if you don’t remember or don’t have a record of your entries and exits from the country. Any person can file a FOIA request, including U.S. citizens and foreign nationals.

When can I submit a FOIA request?

You can submit a Freedom of Information Act request if the information you want is not public. The request must be in writing and reasonably describe the records you seek. The majority of federal agencies now accept electronic requests for information.

What happens if my request gets denied?

When your request is denied – either in whole or just a part of it – The offices that made the decision will let you know if you have the right to file for review, you will have 30 calendar days to file. If your review also gets denied, you can seek judicial review of that decision in a United States District Court.

How long will I be waiting for my request?

Requests usually are processed in the order of receipt. Depending on the complexity of the inquiry, the time will vary. Simple requests are processed quicker than complex ones.

The picture represents the FOIA request so immigrants can access state-held records online.
A FOIA request is the starting point of any immigration process. Gives you all the knowledge you need to pursue your legal goals.

What are the legal exemptions to access government records?

Some records are exempt from being released under the Freedom of Information Act. Congress established nine exemptions. Mostly to protect personal privacy and avoid any harm to law enforcement investigations. When agencies anticipate that disclosure would harm one of the interests protected by the exemptions, they are allowed to keep information.

What information do you need?

Once you are drafting the letter or email, you will need:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Email Address
  • Phone
  • Brief Description of the Records you Need

You may mail, email, or fax your FOIA to the federal agency that has the records you need.

Can I file on my own?

Yes, you can file on your own. However, we advise you to seek guidance from a lawyer to ensure your FOIA request is approved. Having an expert submit your FOIA request will avoid any delays in your Immigration Case.
We are working with immigrants whose future embody peacefulness and accomplishment. If this is how you see your future and want us to help you get there, give us a call.

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The Law Offices of Connie Kaplan, P.A. offer aggressive and experienced legal representation for immigration cases, with a focus on family immigration and investor visas.
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