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FOIA

Lake Oswego FOIA Attorney

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Offices in Medford & the Portland Area

The United States immigration system is often unnecessarily complex and opaque. It may feel like United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may be making unfavorable decisions based on information you are not aware of. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is a law that allows you to obtain a copy of your immigration file, which contains the background information and documents the U.S. government uses when adjudicating your immigration requests.

In immigration, knowledge is power. It is important that you understand what information the government has, whether it’s USCIS, CBP, ICE, EOIR, or DOS. This will aid you in understanding what factors might come into play as you seek an immigration benefit or defend against removal. Our Lake Oswego FOIA lawyer can assist you with requesting and analyzing your immigration file. At Sarpa Law, we are committed to helping our clients overcome immigration obstacles and access the benefits they need. We can help you understand the implications of your immigration file and advise how best to move forward.

When to Consider Making an FOIA Request

FOIA requests are a powerful tool that encourages transparency in the U.S. immigration process. However, not every scenario warrants a request.

FOIA requests should not be used to check the status of an immigration case. If you wish to check the status of a pending request or application, you should instead contact USCIS directly or use resources provided on their website. We can help you determine if you will need to file an FOIA request to obtain the information you need.

Obtaining your immigration file through an FOIA request can be extremely useful when you are seeking certain types of immigration benefits. A FOIA request can also be beneficial when you or a loved one have been placed in removal proceedings.

If you are preparing to petition for an immigration benefit, it can be helpful to know what information USCIS will rely upon to make a decision. If they have information that represents an obstacle to your receiving a benefit, for example, knowing that in advance can help you sufficiently prepare your application materials and potentially avoid costly delays. Our Lake Oswego FOIA attorney can gain valuable insights from your immigration file and can use those discoveries to proactively respond to potential challenges, putting your application in the best possible position.

When you or are loved one is targeted for removal, an FOIA request can reveal what evidence the government has and (most likely) plans to use against you in court. Understanding this evidence in advance can help us prepare and shape a compelling defense that works to address all grounds for removal.


If you need help exercising your rights under the Freedom of Information Act, do not hesitate to call our Medford number (541) 262-6677, our Portland number (503) 755-5587, or contact us online. We offer our legal services in English and Spanish.


How FOIA Requests Work

You must determine what specific information you need before making an FOIA request, as not all relevant information may be included in your immigration file. If you are only looking for a copy of your immigration file, you can generally file a request directly with USCIS.

You may need to submit requests to other government agencies if you need information that is not necessarily contained in your immigration file. If you need information on a criminal background, for example, it is often advisable to request that information through the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI). Requests involving border entries and exits may need to be filed with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) or U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Note that if you are currently in removal proceedings, FOIA requests must be made through the Department of Justice’s Executive Office of Immigration Review (EIOR). We can help identify what agencies you need to contact to obtain the information you need.

When seeking information from the government through the FOIA, it is important to be specific about what information you are seeking. In some situations, you can ask the government to expedite your request, but you must provide a compelling reason for doing so. Generally, the government will only expedite FOIA requests if your life and/or liberty are at stake.

Most FOIA requests can be made online. You must consent to the access of your records through either a sworn affidavit or via a notary public.

Our Lake Oswego FOIA lawyer can guide you through the process of filing a request and help avoid common errors. Our team at Sarpa Law understands how to interpret information included in your immigration file and can leverage our findings to benefit your case.


If you are not sure whether you or a loved one may benefit from an FOIA request, schedule a consultation to discuss your situation. Call (541) 262-6677 or contact us online today!


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