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Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) Request

There are millions of undocumented immigrants currently living in the U.S.  For a substantial portion of this population life has gone on as normal for decades.  They’ve been working, contributing to our communities, paying taxes, buying homes, having kids and even grandkids.  The commonality amongst this group is a lack of current immigration status. 

As an immigration lawyer can explain, how non-US nationals initially and/or subsequently enter the country is critical in obtaining an immigration status that could lead to a green card or even U.S. citizenship.  However, folks, particularly those who have been here for a long time, often forget or don’t even know how they initially crossed or if they ‘ve crossed multiple times.

Lawyers often get inquiries from potential clients who want to “fix their papers” as soon as they get married, or their child turns 21 or they cross some other milestone.  In every instance, an attorney needs to know when and how they initially crossed the U.S. border.  If they are unclear on how that happened, which is most of the time, it is suggested that they request a copy of their immigration record under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) which should take just a few months to obtain.

A FOIA request allows lawyers to obtain copies of any records held by U.S. government agencies, such as the Citizenship and Immigration Services /USCIS, Customs and Border Patrol/CBP, Immigration and Customs Enforcement ICE, Department of State/DOS or Immigration Court/EOIR. This information can be crucial in understanding your past interactions with federal authorities and ensuring that all information in your petition is accurate and complete.

Discrepancies in immigration applications can lead to delays, denials, or even accusations of fraud as our friends at Bolour / Carl Immigration Group, APC can share. The records obtained through FOIA can also reveal any potential red flags or adverse information that might affect your petition. By reviewing your file obtained through a FOIA request, a lawyer can identify and perhaps even rectify any inconsistencies or errors before filing your immigration petitions, ensuring that all submitted information is consistent with your official records.

The government does not charge a fee for the FOIA process.  Most lawyers charge a nominal fee to make the request and discuss clients’ options upon review of the file. Furthermore, you should work with a lawyer who will request the records to be sent directly to their office so the government will not obtain access to their client’s home or work address – the process is completely safe.

If you are hoping to update your immigration status, you should speak with a lawyer first. They will make sure that everything is completed correctly, on time, and safely for you and your family. They will most likely start with a Freedom Of Information Act request as detailed above to check on the date you entered the U.S. and to look out for future potential roadblocks to updating your status. Once they have this information, they can guide you on the next steps. Contact a lawyer near you to get started today.