Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Request Attorneys
Start Your Immigration Case with a FOIA Request
Before you get too far into an immigration case, petition, or application, you should use the Freedom of Information Act to learn more about what the federal government knows about you. With this information in hand and the guidance of an experienced immigration lawyer, you can be more confident in the chances of your immigration case being accepted without issue. Landerholm Immigration, A.P.C. would be happy to help you use a FOIA request to get valuable information that can support and steer your immigration case in the right direction. We are headquartered in California but can assist with FOIA requests across the country.
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What is FOIA?
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was enacted in 1967 to give the public the right and option to request certain records from any federal agency. It was created to improve transparency of federal government dealings and decisions, which also helps build trust in the federal government, so it is beneficial to the country and individual citizens alike. The information that can be revealed through a successful FOIA request can prove relevant for many different types of government processes, including immigration procedures.
What is a FOIA Request?
A FOIA request is an officially submitted request to a federal agency for information about a certain topic. In an immigration case, the FOIA request will usually request information about the petitioner or a family member to see what the federal government knows about them and if they are held in negative or positive regard. Most FOIA requests are filed with specific departments, rather than one broad request for information from multiple agencies, so it might be necessary to file more than one FOIA request for your immigration case.
Most FOIA requests related to an immigration case will be filed with these agencies:
- United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
- Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
- Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
- Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR)
- Department of Justice Immigration Court
- Department of State (DOS)
What Types of Information Can You Get from a FOIA Request?
The information, data, and records available through a successful FOIA request can vary significantly based on what is requested and from which federal agency. With our FOIA request attorneys handling your immigration case or petition, we can help make sure that you request the right information from the right department. Everything from immigration papers that your family used in the past to criminal records that the USCIS and ICE see as information of interest can be useful, so we’ll want to go over all of your options before filing the FOIA request.
Information that could be revealed through a FOIA request includes the following and more:
- Border crossings: We can request any information about the times that you or your family member crossed the border, either with or without proper documentation. For future immigration processes and applications, information related to border crossings might weigh the most on an immigration court’s or administrator’s decisions, so it is important to know what is being considered by using a FOIA request first.
- Criminal records: Being arrested, charged, and/or convicted of certain crimes can damage your eligibility for immigration. A FOIA request can reveal the extent of how your criminal record affects your immigration status or applications.
- Benefit applications: Have you filed for certain government benefits? Whether your application was accepted or not, the filing could impact your immigration case now.
- Court records: Immigration court proceedings can create a variety of records and information. We will want to review everything an immigration court has said about you or a family member before to better expect how your future cases will be evaluated.
How a FOIA Request Can Benefit Your Immigration Case
A successful FOIA request can benefit your immigration case in numerous ways, such as:
- Invaluable insight: The steps and details that can go into a typical immigration case or procedure may be numerous and varied. A FOIA request can provide invaluable insight into your own immigration history so that any potential issues or questions can be identified early.
- Areas of concern: Immigration authorities will have different areas of concern or “red flags” that may significantly hinder an immigration application or process. A FOIA request can unveil these red flags and allow us to address them proactively, so you can explain your side of the situation.
- Accuracy: Every federal agency, no matter how large and resourceful, can make mistakes. We can use a FOIA request to check for errors, inaccuracies, and discrepancies with the government’s records of your immigration status and history and take steps to correct them.
- Evidence collection: Some immigration cases will come down to evidence, like those pertaining to criminal matters, deportation, and other serious immigration situations. The best evidence to use for your case might only be available through a FOIA request.
- Case efficiency: With a full understanding of your immigration history and any information relevant to it, our attorneys can better navigate your immigration case, potentially avoiding complications that otherwise would have delayed the entire process.
Can a FOIA Request Be Denied?
The title of the Freedom of Information Act makes it seem like you are free to get whatever government information you want whenever you want it. The truth is that a FOIA request can be denied for several reasons, so the information isn’t exactly “freely” available. To reduce the risk of a FOIA request denial, you should always file a request with the guidance of our attorneys.
Two of the more common reasons why a FOIA request could be denied are:
- Incorrect process: A small clerical error – like missing a signature line or requesting the right information from the wrong government department – can be all it takes to have a FOIA request denied. Our FOIA request lawyers are well-versed in the entire process, so we can double-check your request for any errors, big or small, before filing.
- Prohibited information: Not all information known by the federal government can be accessed through a FOIA request. Many exemptions to the FOIA exist, such as information related to classified national defense decisions, internal agency rules, trade secrets, anything deemed a matter of personal privacy, anything related to an ongoing law enforcement action, etc. We can make sure that your FOIA request is legitimate by requesting the correct, available information.
How Our FOIA Request Attorneys Can Help
You can depend on our FOIA request attorneys to help with this important process from start to finish. We can begin by evaluating your immigration case to see if a FOIA request will be useful, as it often is. Next, we can submit a FOIA request to each federal government department with information relevant to your case. If there is a delay in retrieving the requested information, we can follow up to find out why.
Once the FOIA request information is gathered, we can review it for relevant information, discrepancies, and errors. Based on what we find, we can then start building your immigration case, whether you are trying to become a citizen, enter the country for the first time, obtain a green card, or complete any other immigration law process.
Choose Landerholm Immigration – Call Today
Landerholm Immigration is one of the nation’s leading law firms that focuses exclusively on immigration law. With nearly 1,000 immigration cases won in the past, our team is the tried-and-proven name that clients, judges, and other law firms trust for difficult, complex cases. We are also led by founding attorney Otis Landerholm, who is one of only a few practicing attorneys who are certified specialists in immigration and nationality law from the State Bar of California. For a case as important as yours and a process as intricate as a FOIA request, you’ll want to pick the experienced team of Landerholm Immigration.