USCIS FOIA/PA Processing Guide (Internal) - Released!

USCIS FOIA/PA Processing Guide (Internal) - Released!

Seattle attorney Jay Gairson writes:

"MuckRock News has received and publicly released the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Freedom of Information Act / Privacy Act Processing Guide.  This is the USCIS reference guide for processing FOIA/PA requests.  It is current with the FOIA Information Bulletins as of February 2013 and contains an extensive list of revisions made since then in Appendix L.  The guide is 527 pages of which 12 full pages were redacted and 19 pages were withheld in part.  Partial page redactions are generally screen shots or specific names.  Full page redactions are mostly related to IBIS, TECS Codes, and LOOKOUT Case Codes.

The MuckRock request for this document is located here:  

The USCIS FOIA/PA Processing Guide is located here:

The USCIS FOIA Processing Guide is a massive wealth of information about USCIS, its systems, and how FOIA requests are handled.  This information is not useful to just people who make FOIA requests, it is useful to anyone who wants to understand more about USCIS.  Contained in the guide you will find out how USCIS handles the vast multitude of information that may be in an alien file or other USCIS records.  For example, the Processing Guide contains information on all of the following topics and more:

* GLOMAR Responses - Do you know that USCIS does not notify you when you get a GLOMAR response?  Instead it uses an "appropriate exemption" or ignore the document entirely.
* Classified Records - Do you know that when an officer encounters a document bearing a security classification that officer must immediately stop processing the request, lock down his or her workstation, and contact a person authorized to handle classified documents?  Do you know that when you see "Referred in full to ICE" on a page it may mean that the document is marked classified?
* Exempt Documents - Do you know how USCIS reviews each of the exemptions and what the government's standards are for withholding a document?
* Out of Scope - Do you know that when the date of birth or other biographic information about your client does not match the documents in the record it is withheld, marked "Out of Scope" or referred to ICE in full to be fully withheld?
* Medical/Psychological Records - Do you know that "medical information [which] may adversely affect the individual" may be withheld and the procedure is to only release them to a physician, unless the requester demands that the records be released?
* Border Crossing Card - Do you know that no physical file exists for BCC's and such requests must be handled by CBP instead?
* Have you ever wondered what the various databases and systems used by USCIS are and how their information is handled by FOIA requests?  The guide contains information on the National Automated Immigration Lookout System (NAILS), Interagency Border Inspection Systems (IBIS), Joint Automated Booking System (JABS), Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), IAFIS, NCIC, Electronic System for Traveler Authorization (ESTA), FBI Results and many more.
* Do you know some of the Operation Names?  For example LOOKING GLASS, Predator, Protect Our Children, Return to Sender, In Our Sites, Orion, and Community Shield.
* Do you know that USCIS fully withholds CARRP information:  "The Controlled Application Review and Resolution Program is something USCIS Fraud Detection & National Security people use for subjects of concern. The subject of record may be a national security concern. Please fully withhold CARRP Worksheets, citing (b)(7)(E), and if there is an officer name, please cite (b)(7)(C). If this is a PA case, also cite (k)(2)."
* Have you ever heard of the "Marriage Fraud Mainframe System"?  If so, did you know that "if the outcome [of a marriage fraud interview] is favorable, we won't usually see the . . . interview in the A-file."
* Did you know that FOIA processing officers get "credit" for the number of pages they process?
* Are you up to date on all of your USCIS Acronyms?  While otherwise available, they are nicely centralized in the processing guide appendices."