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Properly supplementing the administrative record through FOIA in an immigration matter can be critical to the future success of a federal litigation. Visa petitions filed by petitioners on behalf of a beneficiary are usually kept in the beneficiary’s file. To avoid receiving a redacted version, that doesn’t include the petitioner’s information when making a FOIA request for a beneficiary’s file, include a privacy release/Certification of Agreement from the sponsor with your FOIA request wherever practicable.
According to the USCIS FOIA Request Guide:
“Certification of Agreement” for the purposes of FOIA/PA (Privacy Agreement) is written agreement, approval or permission for access to information in the record by the competent individual to whom the record pertains.
5 U.S.C. § 552a(b) No agency shall disclose any record … except pursuant to a written request by, or with the prior written consent of, the individual to whom the record pertains.
6 CFR § 5.3(a) … If you are making a request for records about another individual, either a written authorization signed by that individual permitting disclosure of those records to you or proof that that individual is deceased (for example, a copy of a death certificate or an obituary) must be submitted.
6 CFR § 5.21(f): If you are making a request for records concerning (a living) individual (other than yourself)… You must also provide a statement from the individual certifying the individual’s agreement that records concerning the individual may be released to you.
Certification of Agreement could be:
• Block 3 on Form G-639, or
• A properly executed Form G-28, or
• A separate declaration by the subject, such as: Pursuant to the Privacy Act of 1974 and DHS policy, I hereby consent to the disclosure to of any record pertaining to me that appears in any system of records of USCIS, USCBP, or USICE.