If you’ve received a denial from USCIS or anticipate one, it’s crucial to prepare for a potential federal lawsuit challenging the denial. One of the most effective early steps is to request your Alien File, or A-File, from USCIS under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The A-File should contain all the documents USCIS has about the person concerned.
Why is this essential? For most denial cases against USCIS, they’re filed under the Administrative Procedures Act (APA). Such cases are based on the “administrative record” — generally no new evidence can be presented by either the immigrant or the Government. Hence, it’s important to know precisely what was previously provided to the Government and which documents they referenced when making their decision. The A-File gives as thorough a view as possible before any litigation.
This step remains crucial even for cases not argued under the APA, such as naturalization denials. The more knowledge you and your lawyer have upfront, the better your decision-making and strategy formulation will be.
Below is a link to file a FOIA request with USCIS. If you decide to proceed, remember to keep a record of your request. This way, if USCIS doesn’t respond fully or timely to your FOIA request, you’ll have the necessary documentation to enforce your rights to receive the requested information.