June 26, 2019, WASHINGTON D.C.— USCIS is announcing the expansion of its digital Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Immigration Records System (FIRST). FIRST is the only system in the U.S. government that allows users to submit and track FOIA requests and receive documents digitally. This process will save time, improve efficiency and reduce potential errors that can occur with manually handling paper.
Starting today, FOIA requestors with a USCIS online account can submit requests online for their own records. Soon, they will be able to submit online requests for non-A-File material (policies, communications, etc.). Later this year, USCIS online account holders will be able to make requests on behalf of another person.
“As USCIS continues to move the nation’s legal immigration system away from paper-based services to an electronic future, I am excited to implement the first fully digital FOIA system, and the benefits it will bring for FOIA requestors who take advantage of this service,” said Kenneth Cuccinelli, acting director of USCIS. “FIRST brings the antiquated FOIA process into the 21st century and makes it a more efficient and easy process.”
In May 2018, USCIS announced the initial rollout of FIRST, which allowed requestors to create a USCIS online account to receive requested documents digitally. This enabled requestors to login to their account, track requests and download documents. Since the initial rollout of FIRST’s capabilities, users have created more than 77,000 USCIS online accounts to manage and receive FOIA responses.