Nightingale v. USCIS and FOIA Requests for Immigration Case Files (A-Files)


April 17, 2023


December 16, 2022

This practice advisory explains 1) the ways to submit a FOIA request for a client’s immigration records, or A-File, 2) provides suggestions for avoiding agency rejections of the requests, and 3) identifies issues related to the Nightingale injunction that class counsel are monitoring.

Recently, USCIS changed Form G-639, the form used to submit A-File FOIA requests, and the interface on FIRST, the online web portal that USCIS claims facilitates the quickest response to FOIA requests. This practice advisory discusses the Form and the portal and methods for requesting A-File requests that will help expedite the process and avoid rejections by the agency.

The practice advisory also notes that the Form and the portal both now state that USCIS will “usually” process the request faster if it is not a request for a “large set of records, such as an entire A-File.” Notwithstanding these statements, USCIS is obligated by the Nightingale injunction to process FOIA requests for an entire A-File within the statutory deadlines, i.e., no later than 20-30 business days after receipt of the request. Consequently, whether a request is for part of an A-File or for the entire A-File should have little to no impact on processing time.

The practice advisory was drafted by the American Immigration Council, the National Immigration Litigation Alliance, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, and Law Offices of Stacy Tolchin.

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