The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) allows you to access documents which are not easily accessible. Often, these documents contain public information or information about you specifically. For example, you can use to the FOIA to file a Freedom of Information Act request in order to view your immigration file.
There are many reasons why you may wish to review your immigration file. If you have been rejected for an immigration request and you believe the rejection was in error, a Freedom of Information Act request of your immigration file can help you see what was in your file so that you can understand your rejection. You may simply be curious about what your personal file contains and under FOIA you do have the right to review this information. If you are having a hard time applying for immigration status or citizenship, an immigration attorney may also request your immigration file to help you understand your options.
To request your immigration file, you will need to file USCIS Form G-639. In general, it does not cost anything to file the FOIA form privacy act application, however in some cases fees do apply. You may not use the Freedom of Information Act form to determine the status of your existing application or to obtain proof of your immigration status or legal status in the US. In some cases, a FOIA request will involve pulling up US immigration forms from before 1982. These requests are usually handled by the National Archives. Naturalization records dated before 1906 are handled by clerks of court. However, in most cases, if you want to look at your immigration file, filing a FOIA request is your best option.
The USCIS will often accept a written FOIA request without an official FOIA form, but you will generally find your request will proceed much more quickly if you file Form G-639, which is why this option is highly recommended. When trying to obtain your US immigration file via a FOIA request, make sure that you provide detailed information. This is one reason why using Form G-639 is a good option. Without adequate information, the USCIS will often delay your request or may make the USCIS convclude that no such records exist. Keep in mind, as well, that USCIS Form G-639 is a federal form, and knowingly filing this form with false statements may result in criminal penalties.