Focus on Immigration Records

OGIS Multi-Agency Forum

No other category of records is requested more frequently through through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) than immigration-related records. But figuring out which of numerous Federal agencies have which records can be daunting. OGIS, along with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, hosted a special forum on immigration records on August 30, 2018, at the National Archives’ William G. McGowan Theater in Washington DC. Following opening remarks from Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero, experts from across the government discussed various types of immigration records and explained how they can be accessed through FOIA. The following agencies/departments were represented:

  • Citizenship and Immigration Services
  • Department of State
  • Customs and Border Protection
  • Immigration and Customs Enforcement
  • Department of Health and Human Services
  • Executive Office for Immigration Review, U.S. Department of Justice
  • National Archives and Records Administration

The presenters also answered  questions from the audience and those attending via live stream; those questions—and others—are available on our website. Prior to the Forum, OGIS published our first FOIA Ombuds Observer which examines how to gain access to immigration records using the FOIA.  As requests for immigration records make up a large portion of government FOIA requests — USCIS alone received about 190,000 requests in FY 2017, the vast majority for Alien files — our goal in providing this information is to make the FOIA process more efficient and productive for both the requester community and the agencies that serve that community.