Case Investigations– Understanding the Process
If you have ever had contact with immigration officials, including border officials, but you do not know the outcome of those encounters, you may want to request these records from the government. It is not advisable in every case, but in some cases, your complete record is necessary to determine your immigration options.
We file requests with different government agencies, including Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Immigration Court (EOIR), the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), and the Office of Biometric Identity Management (OBIM).
There is an easy process to follow when you’re making a request for information, and we’re happy to work with you through it. Regardless, here are the steps you need to take when making formal requests.
1. Identify What Information You Need
When you make a request, the more detailed information you provide, the better. Identifying the kind of information you need is important. Whether it’s for yourself, or to provide us to review your case, asking for general immigration information will not get a timely response, if at all.
Knowing you need the records of all the times you’ve entered and exited the United States the last few years, is a specific request that is more likely to get a response. Determining where you are in a particular investigation, and what you need to know, will make the steps faster.
2. Determine Which Immigration Agency Has Your Information
Contacting the wrong office will slow down any responses to your request for information. Knowing which agency has the information you need will help immigration officials respond in a positive manner and find the right information you need, rather than redirect you to different places or lose the request in a series of unending communication.
Knowing which agency you have to talk to can make the process smoother and easier.
3. Write Down and Identify the Reason You Need Your Immigration Information
There are different situations in which you can request immigration information or files. Make sure you have your reason identified for immigration officials because it will be asked when you make your request.
In extenuating circumstances in which your life, safety, or liberty is at stake, the information request can get expedited. The reason for your request will make the steps move as fast as possible.
This is especially important if you’re worried about returning to your home country. This can grant you asylum status if they recognize your life or safety is a factor to consider.
4. Making Your Request for Information
The United Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) offices provide forms to make official Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. Other offices such as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have website portals to make requests.
You should be aware of the level of request you are making. If you are making a request for a file or information through FOIA, it is vital that if the file is not about you specifically, that the person whose records are requested gives their consent. Otherwise, the file or information is most likely not going to be shared at all.
In addition, FOIA requests also need a notary public or have to be made through a sworn affidavit for the request to be made.
There’s a lot to consider. If this all feels overwhelming or too much to handle, please Schedule a Consultation here and we’ll gladly help you navigate this complicated process.
Sometimes you have to follow up on a request to keep things moving along, and if your safety is not at risk, the request can be a very long process. It can take several months, even years at times, depending on your request, how complicated it is, and how overbooked the agency you need the information from is at the time.