FOIA Documents

    FOIA Request Information

    Instruction to Request a A-File for a Trafficking Client
    USCIS has moved over to an online request system:
    The client's lawyers can submit a request on her behalf or can sit down with her and walk her through the process.  Here is a brief video tutorial on the process. 
    If someone submits on the client's behalf, they will need to upload either a notarized signature from the client providing consent, a signed Form G-28, or a similar document with their signature to prove that they have the consent of the person whose record they are requesting.

    FOIA Requests & Productions 

    FOIA Request for Bona Fide Determination Training Materials (June 2021)
    ASISTA and the Urban Justice Center's Domestic Violence Project filed a FOIA request for records related to USCIS's implementation of the bona fide determination policy for U visa petitioners. USCIS provided 2 sets of responsive documents to our request: (1) Responsive Records Redacted includes Powerpoint training materials and other training documents. Most have already been publicly released by USCIS in the Policy Manual and on; and (2) Additional Responsive Materials, which includes training materials and Standard Operating Procedures on general U visa adjudications by USCIS but is not specific to the Bona Fide Determination policy. ASISTA and the Urban Justice Center's Domestic Violence Project have developed an annotated index of the Additional Responsive Materials to highlight items of potential interest, including internal training guidelines on demonstrating substantial mental or physical abuse; passport requirements; adjudication without the A-file; and procedures for denying an I-192, among others. ASISTA and the Urban Justice Center were represented in this FOIA request by Kyle Dandelet of Cleary Gottlieb.
    FOIA Production on Fee Waiver Policy & Practice

    In January 2019, Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA) filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request on behalf of Grassroots Leadership requesting information on fee waiver adjudication policies and procedures for VAWA self-petitions, T visa and U visa Humanitarian programs.

    Due to a lack of response, Grassroots Leadership, represented by TRLA, was a plaintiff in litigation against USCIS, which resulted in a a significant and important document production including standard operating procedures, internal directives and communications, and more.

    We are grateful for Grassroots Leadership and TRLA for their advocacy and efforts to ensure this information is available to advocates and the public. Click on the links below to access the highlighted index and the entirety of the document production. 

    Index to Highlighted Selection of Records 

    Entire Set of all the Records Produced in this Case

    Safe Horizon and ASISTA File FOIA Request Seeking Immigration Policy Data to U-Visa Adjudications (February 19, 2020)
    New York, February 25, 2020) – Safe Horizon and ASISTA have filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for immigration policy data on the adjudication of U-visa petitions and adjustment of status (permanent residence) applications for those granted U visa status.
    U visas were created by a bi-partisan congress in 2000 to protect immigrant victims of serious crimes who assist law enforcement in detecting, investigating and prosecuting crime. Beginning in 2018, Safe Horizon’s Immigration Law Project and ASISTA observed a shift in USCIS’s adjudication of U-visa petitions and U-visa permanent residence applications for applicants with prior contact with law enforcement. Safe Horizon’s Immigration Law Project and ASISTA observed an increase in USCIS requests and reliance on copies of applicants’ arrest records even where charges were never filed, charges were dismissed, and/or where the records were sealed.  Prior to this time, USCIS generally accepted certified copies of a certificate of disposition.
    USCIS has not issued any revised practice or policy information regarding this shift.  As a result of the paucity of public information, many members of the public, including immigration lawyers, advocates for noncitizens, social workers, and law enforcement personnel, lack an understanding of the current practice and policy governing U-visa adjudications, the rationales that underlie it, and how to develop best practices for their work.
    Safe Horizon and ASISTA requested records relating to USCIS’ policy on the adjudication of U-visa petitions and applications for adjustment of status based on an underlying U-visa from 2015 to present. Safe Horizon and ASISTA also requested USCIS policies from 2015 to present on the relevance of an applicant’s prior contact with law enforcement in the adjudication of U-visa petitions and applications for adjustment of status based on an underlying U-visa.
    “This data is needed to provide a minimum level of transparency on USCIS’ practices as it relates to a critical form of immigration relief for survivors of violence and abuse,” said Evangeline M. Chan, Esq., Director of Safe Horizon’s Immigration Law Project.
    Laura Flores Bachman, ASISTA Senior Legal Counsel said, “As leading advocates for immigrant survivors of violence, ASISTA has seen a significant shift in the way USCIS is adjudicating U visa petitions and U visa permanent residence applications. The documents we requested from USCIS will hopefully shed light on the way the agency has shifted its focus in these adjudications, creating more obstacles for immigrant survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, human trafficking and other serious crimes.”
    Attorneys from Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP are representing Safe Horizon and ASISTA on a pro bono basis in this FOIA request.
    A copy of the FOIA request can be found here.
    On March 17, 2021, ASISTA and Safe Horizon filed a complaint to compel the government to comply with its FOIA obligations in federal district court (SDNY). 

    Complaint  Press Release 

    Group 1: July 1 Production (Part 1)

    Group 2: July 1 Production (Part 2)

    Group 3: August 10 Production 

    Production 4

    Production 5

    Production 6 OCR

    Production 7

    Production 8

    Immigration Center for Women and Children; ASISTA Immigration Assistance v. USCIS (N.D. Cal)

    On April 30, 2020, ASISTA and ICWC, represented by Van Der Hout LLP, filed a complaint in the Northern District of California seeking the release of documents related to USCIS's exercise of discretion in adjudicating applications for adjustment of status.


    Index of Exhibits

    Exhibit A

    Exhibit B

    Exhibit C

    Exhibit D

    Exhibit E

    Records related to petitions for U visas where the underlying crime was California robbery


    Production 1

    Production 2

    Production 3