USCIS Form G-639 Guide: Accessing Your Immigration Records Easily

Form G-639, also known as the Freedom of Information/Privacy Act Request, is a document utilized by individuals to obtain access to their records held by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the Privacy Act (PA), this form facilitates the process of requesting information, ensuring transparency and adherence to an individual’s right to information. The purpose of this form is also grounded in the principles of these Acts, granting a pathway for individuals to review the information that USCIS has on file about them.

The utility of Form G-639 extends to various scenarios where an individual may need to review their immigration records for accuracy, to understand the status of their case, or to obtain necessary documents for their personal records.

While the form is not mandatory and USCIS accepts any written request that complies with the FOIA and PA requirements, using Form G-639 can simplify the request process. It offers a structured format for the request, thereby potentially reducing the processing time by clearly stating the nature and specifics of the information sought.

Overview of USCIS Form G-639

USCIS Form G-639, also known as the Freedom of Information/Privacy Act Request, is a document utilized to access records held by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This form is available for individuals to request their own immigration records or, in certain situations, the records of others.

Purpose:

  • Access: To obtain USCIS records under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the Privacy Act (PA).
  • Amendment: To seek corrections or amendments to one’s own immigration records as permitted under the PA.

Applicability:

  • Any person who requires information from USCIS can use Form G-639. However, the request to access another individual’s records requires consent or proof of death.

Procedure:

  1. Completion: Form G-639 must be accurately filled out with the required information.
  2. Submission: It can be submitted by mail, and in cases without Form G-639, the request must comply with statutory FOIA procedures.

Key Points:

  • No Fee: Generally, there is no fee for making a FOIA/PA request. However, for extensive searches or large requests, fees may apply.
  • Efficiency: Although one can directly mail a FOIA request without the form, using Form G-639 can expedite the process.
  • Electronic Option: USCIS also allows for online submission, which may facilitate quicker processing.

Form G-639 represents an essential tool for transparency and personal data management within the USCIS system, providing a structured method for the public to request important immigration information.

Eligibility and Purpose

Understanding the eligibility requirements and the core objectives of Form G-639 helps applicants navigate the process of accessing immigration records from USCIS.

Eligibility Criteria

Form G-639, or the Freedom of Information/Privacy Act Request, can be filed by any individual seeking access to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) records. They may be U.S. citizens, legal permanent residents, or other individuals. Specific eligibility includes:

  • Individuals requesting their own immigration records.
  • Representatives seeking information on behalf of another person, given they have obtained proper consent or proof of death if the subject is deceased.

Purpose of the Form

The primary purpose of Form G-639 is to allow individuals to:

  • Request access to USCIS records through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which provides public access to federal government records.
  • Apply under the Privacy Act of 1974, for records pertaining to oneself, ensuring personal information is safeguarded but accessible to the individual it pertains to.

Completing the Form

To accurately complete USCIS Form G-639, one must provide detailed personal information, specify the request details clearly, and attach any necessary supporting documentation.

Personal Information

Form G-639 requires the requester to fill out personal details, ensuring the identification of the individual is clear for record retrieval. Information such as the requester’s full name, date of birth, and contact information, including address and phone number, must be accurately provided. Additionally, if requesting information on behalf of another person, the requester must include their relationship to the subject of the record and proof of identity.

Request Details

In this section, the requester must outline the specific records being sought. The request should include enough detail to enable USCIS to identify the requested records. A timeframe for the records in question and any relevant file numbers or identification marks that may help USCIS locate the documents should be explicitly stated.

Supporting Documentation

One needs to attach all necessary supporting documents to substantiate the request. This could include a notarized affidavit or written consent from the individual whose records are being requested, if applicable. Any additional materials that provide context or specify the nature of the records sought will aid in the timely processing of the request.

Submission Process

The Form G-639 is submitted to USCIS to request records under the Freedom of Information Act or Privacy Act. A precise approach in the submission process ensures timely and accurate processing of requests.

Where to Submit

Form G-639 should be submitted to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), either online or through mail, depending on the applicant’s preference and the availability of online submission at the time of filing. For mail submissions, applicants must locate the correct address designated by USCIS for FOIA/PA requests. This information is subject to change, so applicants should verify the current address on the USCIS official website or by contacting their customer service.

Submission Guidelines

When submitting Form G-639, applicants must follow specific guidelines to avoid processing delays:

  • Complete the Form: All required fields must be filled accurately.
  • Specific Requests: Clearly identify the records needed, preferred format, and a detailed description to reduce the response time.
  • Proof of Identity: Include sufficient proof of identity, such as a notarized statement or a sworn declaration.
  • Sign the Form: Unsigned requests will not be processed.
  • Consent for Third-Party Requests: If requesting records about another person, written consent from that individual or proof of guardianship is required.

Applicants should retain a copy of the completed form and any correspondence for their records.

Processing Time and Checking Status

When applying for access to USCIS immigration records using Form G-639, understanding the processing time and how to check the status of the request is crucial for applicants to manage their expectations and keep track of progress.

Estimated Processing Times

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) does not provide a standard processing time for Form G-639, as it can widely vary depending on the complexity of the request and the current workload of the USCIS. Applicants should be prepared for the process to take several months. For more specific timelines, one can refer to the USCIS website, which occasionally updates generic processing timeframes.

Status Tracking Methods

To track the status of a Form G-639 request, applicants may use the USCIS online status tracking tool. They will need their unique 13-character identifier receipt number, which omits dashes but includes all other characters like asterisks if listed. This online system displays the most recent action taken on their request and provides information on the subsequent steps, if applicable. For any additional information or more detailed updates, contacting the USCIS Customer Service Center may be necessary.

Understanding Freedom of Information Act

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is key to accessing federal government records, and USCIS Form G-639 facilitates these requests in the context of immigration records.

FOIA Principles

FOIA operates on the foundation that the public has a right to know about the functions and operations of their government. The Act enforces federal agencies to disclose any requested information unless it falls under one of nine exemptions protecting interests such as personal privacy, national security, and law enforcement.

  • Transparency: Agencies must proactively publish certain information and provide records in response to requests.
  • Responsiveness: Federal agencies are required to respond to requests for information within a specific timeframe.
  • Right of Appeal: Requesters have the right to appeal agency decisions to withhold information or to challenge agency fees and administrative aspects of the response.

Information Accessible Under FOIA

Under FOIA, a variety of USCIS documents can be accessed, including:

  • Immigration Case Files: Such as adjustment of status applications and naturalization files.
  • Policies and Manuals: Instructions and guidelines followed by USCIS.
  • Administrative Materials: Correspondence, decision-making documents, and other written materials related to USCIS operations.
Accessible Information Not Accessible under FOIA
Immigration Records Classified Security Information
USCIS Policies Personal Privacy Protected Documents
Operational Documents Agency Personnel Rules
Other Agency Records Certain Law Enforcement Records

Privacy Act Considerations

When individuals submit USCIS Form G-639, Freedom of Information/Privacy Act Request, they are invoking their rights under the Privacy Act of 1974. The Privacy Act allows individuals to:

  • Request access to records pertaining to themselves in federal agencies’ records systems.
  • Request amendment or correction of these records if they believe there is an error.

Key Points Under the Privacy Act:

  • Individuals have the right to access their personal data held by the federal government.
  • The request can lead to the amendment of records where inaccuracies are identified.
  • They must provide adequate verification of their identity to access personal information.
  • Protection against unauthorized disclosure of personal information is emphasized.

Documentation Requirements:

Obligation Description
Identity Proof Must be provided to ensure that information is given to the right person.
Consent If acting on behalf of someone, the requester requires the individual’s written consent.

The Privacy Act aims to balance the government’s need to maintain information with the individual’s right to be protected against unwarranted invasions of their privacy stemming from the collection, maintenance, use, and disclosure of personal information. In the context of immigration records, applicants are afforded a level of control over their personal information managed by USCIS.

Amendment of Records

Under the Privacy Act of 1974, individuals have the right to request amendments of their records held by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) if they believe that the information is inaccurate, irrelevant, outdated, or incomplete. Form G-639 serves as a tool in this amendment process.

How to Request Amendment

To initiate an amendment, an individual must:

  1. Clearly identify the record in question.
  2. Specify the exact nature of the amendment requested.
  3. Provide a statement of reasons for the amendment.

A written request can be submitted using USCIS Form G-639 or any other written format as long as it includes sufficient detail to locate the record and clearly states the change needed.

Review Process for Amendments

Once the request for amendment is submitted, USCIS will:

  • Review the request to determine the validity of the claim.
  • Conduct an assessment of the information provided.
  • Notify the requester of the decision and, if the amendment is approved, make the appropriate changes to the record.

In cases where the amendment is denied, USCIS will provide the individual with reasons for the refusal and information about how to appeal the decision.

Appeals and Legal Recourse

When pursuing information through Form G-639, one should be aware of the avenues for appeal and legal recourse if a request is denied or unsatisfactorily fulfilled.

Filing an Appeal

If an individual’s request for records under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) using Form G-639 is denied, they have the right to file an administrative appeal. The appeal must be submitted within 90 days from the date of the initial decision. The appeal should be in writing and clearly state the reasons for the disagreement with the decision.

  1. Where to Send the Appeal: Send the appeal to the office that issued the initial decision.
  2. What to Include: Clearly mark the letter and envelope with the words “FOIA Appeal” or “Privacy Act Appeal.”
  3. Required Information: Provide:
    • Your original FOIA request number;
    • A copy of the initial denial, if possible;
    • Reasons for the appeal.

Judicial Review Options

Should the administrative appeal be unsuccessful, the requester has the right to seek judicial review. They may file a lawsuit in a United States District Court:

  • When to File: The lawsuit can be filed after the exhaustion of administrative remedies, typically after the appeal decision, or if there’s no decision within the statutory time frame.
  • Location: The lawsuit can be filed in the district in which they reside, have their principal place of business, in which the agency records are situated, or in the District of Columbia.

Note: The process for judicial review is dictated by FOIA and the Privacy Act, and one may need to seek legal advice to navigate this option.

Additional Resources

When completing USCIS Form G-639 for a Freedom of Information/Privacy Act request, individuals might seek additional support to navigate the process. The following resources provide guidance and contact avenues for assistance.

Contact Information

For direct inquiries and assistance with Form G-639, individuals can contact:

  • USCIS National Customer Service Center (NCSC)
    • Phone: 1-800-375-5283
    • TTY for the hearing impaired: 1-800-767-1833
  • USCIS FOIA Contact Information
  • Mail Requests
    • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
    • National Records Center, FOIA/PA Office
    • P.O. Box 648010
    • Lee’s Summit, MO 64064-6010

Helpful Websites

The USCIS and other federal websites provide comprehensive information on Form G-639 and related processes:

  • USCIS Official FOIA Request Page
    • Includes detailed instructions on how to file a FOIA request and access USCIS records.
  • FOIA.gov
    • Offers general information on the FOIA process across all federal agencies and access to annual reports.
  • DHS FOIA Page
    • Provides information on the Department of Homeland Security’s FOIA procedures, including how to make a request.
  • REGINFO.GOV
    • Supplies governmental forms like Form G-639 and information on regulatory actions.

Additional Resources: