Immigration agency rolls out initial online FOIA processing capability

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced Wednesday that it has launched a new system that will allow the agency to process Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests online.

The Freedom of Information Act Immigration Records SysTem (FIRST) will “eventually” allow users to submit requests and receive documents online. Up to this point, USCIS has accepted requests via mail, fax and email, and generally delivers the documents on a compact disc in the mail — so this is a big step forward.

But don’t get too excited just yet — FIRST is going to be available in “phases.”

To begin with, the service will be restricted to individuals who already have an immigration court date pending and need to file a request for documents. Those individuals will be able to create an account in the myUSCIS portal and track any information requests from there. This capacity will be expanded for use by all FOIA requesters “in the coming months,” a press release states. Read more…