When people think of the “Freedom of Information Act,” or FOIA, different things can come to mind. For some, they associate FOIA with attempts to unlock various alleged government conspiracies; others think of FOIA as a way to keep tabs on the behavior of government officials. For those in the field of immigration law, however, FOIA requests can be very powerful tools. FOIA requests can allow immigration attorneys to better understand a given person’s situation relative to their current status, eligibility, and so forth. In this post, we will discuss why FOIA requests can be so helpful; we will also point out the types of documents which can be accessed through FOIA requests, as well as the general process underlying these requests.
- FOIA Requests Provide You with X-Ray Vision
Here is a common scenario: a person walks into an immigration attorney’s office and asks for assistance. This person believes that he or she is merely one application away from being on the road to permanent residency status. The person collaborates with the attorney, pays his or her attorney’s fees and USCIS fees, and everything appears to be fine. Then, like a ton of bricks, this person is eventually hit with the unfortunate news that his or her application has been rejected because of a past issue with immigration authorities. The applicant wasn’t aware that this past incident presented a barrier to his or her current situation. But, if the attorney had known, something could possibly have been changed. This hypothetical scenario illustrates the usefulness of FOIA requests.
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To use a simile, FOIA requests are like an x-ray of a given person’s situation. Like an x-ray, a FOIA request has the ability to uncover everything which is going on “under the surface.” Even when things appear to be fine, or the true nature of a situation is unknown, FOIA requests can dig down and reveal what is actually happening.
- FOIA Requests Can Access Immigration Records, Agency Policies, & Other Documents
FOIA requests can be made not only to access specific documents, they can also be made to access all relevant documents or information for a certain person. This is why these requests can be so useful for those seeking to navigate U.S. immigration law. FOIA requests can be used to determine if a particular person has had a prior deportation, or criminal record, or prior attempt to become a lawful permanent resident, and so forth. What’s more, FOIA requests can be used to access detailed information regarding the policies of particular government agencies. With the information which can be gained from a FOIA request, an attorney can develop a better strategy for a particular client. In some cases, a FOIA request may actually reveal that a person isn’t eligible for permanent residency, or is only eligible under certain conditions; this is all very useful information for the attorney and ultimately the client.
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Submitting FOIA requests is easier than ever now that the USCIS has online resources. Individuals can access many documents without making a formal request; a formal request simply requires that the individual go online and follow all the required steps. You can also check the status of requests online after they have already been placed.
- Contact New Frontier Immigration Law for More Info
There is no question that FOIA requests can be extremely useful for immigration attorneys and clients. To learn more, reach out to New Frontier Immigration Law today by calling 623-742-5400.