OGIS Visits U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)

USCIS hosts a naturalization ceremony on Ellis Island in in 2000. (NARA Identifier 7934956)

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) FOIA program in Lee’s Summit, Missouri invited several members of the OGIS staff to visit their facility this week to provide their FOIA staff with training and to facilitate an agency FOIA compliance assessment.

OGIS’s training sessions are intended to teach FOIA professionals practical communication skills to help them understand and resolve disputes. During the sessions, we also give training participants a chance to test drive their skills and fine-tune their approach through activities and a role-playing exercise. We provide this training twice each year at the National Archives, and also provide agency-centric training upon request. To learn more about our training program, or to find out more about setting up a session for your agency, please email us at ogis@nara.gov.

Like the other agencies that have participated in our agency compliance assessment program, USCIS volunteered to go through the process as part of their ongoing efforts to strengthen their FOIA program. During the visit we will interview USCIS’s FOIA leadership and review a sample of FOIA case files. Our assessments also rely on our analysis of agency FOIA policies or Standard Operating Procedures, several years’ worth of annual FOIA reports to the Attorney General, FOIA litigation filed against the agency, and any dispute resolution cases involving the agency to get a thorough understanding of the FOIA programs’ operations. As a neutral third party, we are able to critically assess this information, identify any challenges or opportunities to improve the FOIA program’s processes, and use our knowledge of a broad range of agency best practices to develop tailored and targeted recommendations.

In addition to hearing about the FOIA program from the agency employees’ perspective, we think it is important to hear from the agency’s FOIA requesters. If you would like to share your experience as a FOIA requester at USCIS, please send us your comments to ogis@nara.gov.

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