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Special FOIA Processing Track for Individuals Appearing Before an Immigration Judge

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, DHS.




U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is improving its processing of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests from the general public by establishing a third processing track for individuals appearing before an immigration court. Currently, a large portion of FOIA requests are submitted by individuals who have received a Notice To Appear for a hearing before an immigration judge or by such individuals' attorneys or representatives. By creating an additional processing track, USCIS will be able to provide the public with more expeditious service and to thereby improve customer satisfaction.


This notice is effective March 30, 2007.

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Brian J. Welsh, Chief, Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Department of Homeland Security, P.O. Box 648010, Lee's Summit, Missouri 64064, Phone: 816-350-5785, E-Mail: .

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Under the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. 552 (“FOIA”), the Privacy Act, 5 U.S.C. 552a, and the Department of Homeland Security's implementing regulations located at 6 CFR 5.5(b), the Secretary of Homeland Security may use two or more processing tracks for responding to FOIA requests. Currently, USCIS has two tracks: Track 1 is for less complex requests that can be processed in 20 working days or less. Track 2 is for complex requests that may require more than 20 working days to process and that include searching and line-by-line review of numerous pages of information. With this notice, USCIS will establish a third processing track, the “Notice To Appear” track, which will allow for accelerated access to the Alien-File (A-File) for those individuals who have been served with a charging Start Printed Page 9018document and have been scheduled for a hearing before an immigration judge as a result. The creation of this track is consistent with Executive Order 13392, “Improving Agency Disclosure of Information” (December 14, 2005), which requires Federal agencies to improve their FOIA processing.

“Notice To Appear” track cases do not include cases in which the immigration judge has issued a final order or cases in which an appeal of an immigration judge's decision has been filed with the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). “Notice To Appear” track cases do not include cases in which the subject's date of scheduled hearing before the immigration judge has passed and current records indicate that the subject failed to appear for his/her scheduled hearing, resulting in closure of the removal/deportation proceedings by the immigration judge.

An Alien-File or A-File is the series of records USCIS maintains on immigrants, certain non-immigrants, applicants for citizenship, certain individuals who have relinquished their United States citizenship, applicants for permanent residence or other immigration benefits, and individuals who have become subjects of immigration enforcement proceedings. The A-File documents the history of such people's interaction with USCIS or other components of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in actions prescribed by the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and related regulations. USCIS uses the information in an A-File to adjudicate requests for immigration-related benefits and to enforce U.S. immigration laws.

Individuals may request access to their A-files by filing a FOIA request with Form G-639, Freedom of Information/Privacy Act Request, or by having their attorney or representative submit such a request along with a Form G-28, Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Representative, on their behalf. These forms can be found at

A requester (including individuals, attorneys, or representatives) seeking to be placed in the queue must provide a copy of one of the following documents:

1. Form I-862, Notice To Appear, documenting the scheduled date of the subject's hearing before the immigration judge;

2. Form I-122, Order To Show Cause, documenting the scheduled date of the subject's hearing before the immigration judge;

3. A written notice of continuation of a scheduled hearing before the immigration judge; or

4. Form I-863, Notice of Referral to Immigration Judge.

After USCIS receives the request and validates it as a proper request, USCIS will place it in a queue of previously received requests of a similar nature. USCIS will take the requests in the order of receipt, as mandated by the FOIA and the applicable implementing DHS regulations at 6 CFR 5. USCIS will only accept requests for expedited processing for this queue if the requester has satisfied the requirements outlined in 6 CFR 5.5(d).

All other FOIA requirements, as described in 6 CFR part 5, Disclosure of Records and Information, will apply.

This notice does not affect those requests that do not fall in the above-described category.

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Dated: February 21, 2007.

Emilio T. Gonzalez,

Director, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

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[FR Doc. E7-3357 Filed 2-27-07; 8:45 am]