USCIS Announces Launch of Online FOIA Request Processing


U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently

announced the launch of its “Freedom of Information Act

(FOIA) Immigration Records SysTem (FIRST),” which the agency

said “will eventually allow users to submit, manage, and

receive FOIA requests entirely online.” Before this change,

USCIS only accepted FOIA requests by mail, fax, and email, and

requestors typically received their documents on a CD by mail.

USCIS is rolling out FIRST’s digital delivery of services

in phases. Initially, requestors who have an immigration court date

pending and file a request for documents can create an account

within myUSCIS to receive documents digitally. Through their

accounts, requestors can track the status of their FOIA cases and

will receive an email notification when USCIS has uploaded their


In the coming months, USCIS said, this digital delivery option

will be expanded to all FOIA and Privacy Act (PA) requestors. When

FIRST is fully operational, requestors will be able to use a

completely digital FOIA/PA system, from online submission to

retrieving and downloading responsive documents. USCIS will notify

the public as additional services become available.

USCIS said that FIRST is part of the agency’s

“ongoing effort to move the nation’s legal immigration

system away from paper-based services to digital


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