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To ensure openness and transparency and to better serve those seeking more information about ICE and its operations, the agency centralized processing of all ICE-related Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests in a single office.

Note: Alien files (A-Files) are under the control of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Therefore, all requests for A-Files, including requests for any records contained therein, should be directed to USCIS, the National Records Center (NRC), FOIA division, P.O. Box 648010, Lee’s Summit, MO 64064-5570. Please refer any questions about A-Files to 1-800-375-5283. You may visit the USCIS Web site for additional information.

ICE FOIA/PA Headquarters Office

Main Number: (866) 633-1182
Fax Number: (202) 732-4266
Email: ICE-FOIA@dhs.gov

Mail (U.S. Postal System and all overnight mail/FedEX)
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Freedom of Information Act Office
500 12th Street SW, Stop 5009
Washington, D.C. 20536-5009

The Freedom of Information Act (5 U.S.C. 552), establishes a presumption that records in the possession of agencies and departments of the Executive Branch of the U.S. Government are available to the public. The FOIA sets standards for determining when Government records must be made available and which records may be withheld. The FOIA also gives requesters specific legal rights and provides administrative and judicial remedies when access to records or portions of records is denied. The FOIA statute requires that Federal agencies provide access to and disclosure of information pertaining to the Government's business to the fullest extent possible.

The Privacy Act of 1974, 5 U.S.C. § 552a, establishes a code of fair information practices that governs the collection, maintenance, use, and dissemination of personally identifiable information about individuals that is maintained in systems of records by federal agencies. A system of records is a group of records under the control of an agency from which information is retrieved by the name of the individual or by some identifier assigned to the individual. The Privacy Act requires that agencies give the public notice of their systems of records by publication in the Federal Register. The Privacy Act prohibits the disclosure of information from a system of records absent the written consent of the subject individual, unless the disclosure is pursuant to one of twelve statutory exceptions. The Act also provides individuals with a means by which to seek access to and amendment of their records, and sets forth various agency record-keeping requirements.

Congress provided special protection in the FOIA for three narrow categories of law enforcement and national security records. The provisions protecting those records are known as “exclusions.” The first exclusion protects the existence of an ongoing criminal law enforcement investigation when the subject of the investigation is unaware that it is pending and disclosure could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings. The second exclusion is limited to criminal law enforcement agencies and protects the existence of informant records when the informant’s status has not been officially confirmed. The third exclusion is limited to the FBI and protects the existence of foreign intelligence or counterintelligence, or international terrorism records when the existence of such records is classified. Records falling within an exclusion are not subject to the requirements of the FOIA. Thus, when the agency responds to your request it will limit its response to those records that are subject to the FOIA.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) records are investigatory records compiled for law enforcement purposes.

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Contact

DHS FOIA webpage
Freedom of Information Act Office
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
500 12th Street, S.W., Stop 5009
Washington, D.C. 20536-5009
Phone: (866) 633-1182 Facsimile (202) 732-4265

NOTE: All requests for Alien Files, including all records therein, should be requested from U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, The National Records Center, FOIA Division, P.O. Box 648010, Lee's Summit, MO 64064-5570. Alien Files are under the control of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Please refer any questions about Alien File record requests to Director, Freedom of Information/Privacy Act Program at (202) 272-8269.

How to Make a FOIA or Privacy Act Request

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. § 552, requires the agency to make its records available to the public to the extent that those records are not otherwise exempt from the disclosure requirements of the Act (e.g., classified national security, business proprietary, personal privacy, and investigative information).

The Privacy Act (PA), 5 U.S.C. § 552a provides lawful permanent residents and U.S. citizens a right of access to records filed in an agency system of records, which are retrieved by their name or personal identifier.

ALL REQUESTS MUST BE SUBMITTED IN WRITING. FORM G-639 may be used for this purpose. Requests must be for access to existing records. The FOIA /PA Program Office will not "create" records for the purpose of responding to a FOIA or PA request.

Follow these steps to make a request:

  • The request must be in writing, including a daytime phone number so that we may contact you.
  • Provide as much information as possible on the subject matter; this will help expedite the search process.
  • Verification of Identity, Verification of Guardianship, Accompanying Persons, and Amendment Request are requirements for making a PA request. PA requests should be marked "Privacy Act Request."
  • Mail your request to:
    FOIA Office
    U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
    800 North Capitol St., NW
    5th Floor, Suite 585
    Washington, DC 20536
  • Requests can also be faxed to (202) 732-4265
  • Requests or questions may also be e-mailed to the following address: ICE-FOIA@dhs.gov
  • Requests are deemed to constitute an agreement to pay any applicable fees that may be chargeable up to $25 without notice. Most requests do not require any fees; however, if fees exceed $25, we will notify you beforehand.

An "AFFIRMATION/DECLARATION" form indicating your name, date of birth, name of the person you want your records disclosed to (where applicable) and their address and a statement indicating that you understand that knowingly or willingly seeking or obtaining access to records about another person under false pretenses and or without their consent is punishable by a fine of up to $5,000.

When should I expect to see a response to my request?

You should receive an acknowledgement letter within 3-5 business days after we receive your request. This letter will contain a tracking number we have assigned to your request. If you contact us by phone, mail or e-mail please have this number available if you wish to check the status of your request.

ICE uses a multi-track system to process requests on a first-in, first-out basis. We are able to answer simple requests more quickly and such inquiries will be placed on the fast track of our multi-track processing. More complex requests may require significant processing time. Although ICE's goal is to respond within 20 business days of receipt of your request, the FOIA does permit a 10-day extension of this time period. If your request involves a significant volume of records, requires that we collect records from separate offices or requires that we consult with another agency, ICE will invoke the 10-day extension for the completion of your request.

Multi-Track Processing

FOIA requests are placed on one of three (3) tracks. Requests are entered into tracks based upon the complexity of the request:

  • Track 1: Track one is for those requests that seek and receive expedited processing pursuant to subsection (a)(6)(E) of the FOIA.
  • Track 2: Track two is for those requests that do not involve a significant volume of records or lengthy consultations with other entities.
  • Track 3: Track three is for those requests that do involve a significant volume of records and for which lengthy or numerous consultations are required, or those requests which may involve sensitive records.

Fees

There is no initial fee to make a FOIA request, and in many cases no fees are charged. However, agencies are authorized by law to recover the direct costs of providing information in response to a FOIA request. For purposes of fees only, the FOIA divides requests into three categories:

  • commercial use requests
  • news media, educational, or scientific requests
  • all other requests

Those initiating a commercial use request are charged for search time, document review, and duplication. News media, educational, and scientific requests are charged for duplication only, and only after the first 100 pages. All other requests are charged for search time (after two hours) and duplication (after 100 pages). In all cases, if the total fee does not exceed $14.00, ICE will not charge any fee.

You may make a specific statement in your request letter limiting the amount of fees you are willing to pay. If you do not, ICE will assume that you are willing to pay fees of up to $25.00. If your estimated fees exceed $25.00, you will be given the opportunity to narrow your request in order to reduce the fees or you will be asked to express your commitment to pay the estimated amount. Ordinarily, you will not be required to actually pay the fees until the records have been processed and are ready to be sent to you.

Fee Waivers

If you expect or are advised that a fee will be charged, you may request a waiver of those fees. However, fee waivers are limited to situations in which a requester can show that the disclosure of the requested information is in the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations and activities of the government and is not primarily in the commercial interest of the requester. A requester's inability to pay fees is not a legal basis for granting a fee waiver.

Expedited Processing

Under certain conditions you may be entitled to have your request processed on an expedited basis. However, you should realize that whenever a FOIA request is expedited for a particular requester, taking that action results in an additional delay for previous requesters who have been waiting for a response. Therefore, in an effort to treat all requesters equitably, ICE ordinarily will process an initial FOIA request or an administrative appeal of a request's denial ahead of others only in cases in which there will be a threat to someone's life or physical safety, or where an individual will suffer the loss of substantial due process rights if the records are not processed on an expedited bases. In most cases, a request will not be expedited merely on the basis that the requester is facing a court deadline in a judicial proceeding.

A statement setting forth the reasons why your request should be expedited must accompany a request for expedited processing. You should certify that the reasons you have given are true and correct.  If ICE denies your request for expedited processing, you will be advised of your right to submit an administrative appeal of that denial. 

Administrative Appeals

You may file an administrative appeal for any of the following reasons.

  • If you are not satisfied with ICE's initial response to your request.
  • If you disagree with the withholding of information, or if you believe that there are additional records responsive to your request that ICE failed to locate.
  • A determination has been made that your request was not reasonably described.
  • A determination has been made that a record does not exist or cannot be located.
  • A determination has been made that a record is not readily reproducible in the form or format requested.
  • A determination has been made that the requested information is not a record subject to the FOIA.
  • You disagree with a determination regarding the charging of a fee.
  • You believe your request was not responded to in the time stipulated by the FOIA regulations.
  • You also may file an administrative appeal if you have requested expedited processing or a fee waiver and been denied.

You should be advised of your right to file an appeal in the initial determination letter sent by ICE or in a letter denying your request for expedited processing or a fee waiver. Your appeal must be received within 60 days of the date of ICE's determination letter.

All appeals must be made in writing and addressed to:

Associate General Counsel (General Law)
Department of Homeland Security
FOIA Appeals
Washington, D.C. 20528

Both the front of the envelope and the appeal letter should contain the notation "Freedom of Information Act Appeal."

Judicial Review

If you still believe that ICE has not handled your FOIA request properly under the law after your administrative appeal has been decided, you have the right to challenge the agency's action in a lawsuit filed in federal court. Before doing so, you ordinarily will be required first to have filed an administrative appeal and to have received a response.

If you do bring a court action, you may file your lawsuit in a federal district court in any of the following places: (1) where you reside, (2) where you have your principal place of business (if any), (3) in the District of Columbia, or (4) where the records are located, if they are not located in the District of Columbia. If you have received an administrative appeal determination, that final administrative response letter will advise you of your right to seek judicial review and will specify where you can do so.