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Known Unknowns Or How To Proceed If You Had An Immigration History But Do Not Have Your File

Author: New York Immigration Lawyer Alena Shautsova

It is time for you to try to fix your Immigration status; you finally married a US citizen, or a petition filed by your relative became current, or your employer decided to help you... Now, you remember that a long time ago you had some Immigration problems, but you do not have any copies, and you cannot remember what it was about. It might be that you were a child when your mother or father ended up in an Immigration court, and you are not sure if your parent’s case had any consequences for you.

First, you need to try to locate you’re A number or an alien number, if any. You will need that number to request your Immigration file. If you do have you’re A number, the first thing that you need to do is to check for any outstanding deportation/removal orders or a pending case using the 800- automatic immigration court system by dialing: 1-800-898-7180.

There are two places one can request their file from: Immigration court and USCIS (former INS). It is possible to request your file without listing an A number, but it is very unlikely that request will produce any results. The FOIA (or Freedom of Information Act) request is free, it means that the government does not charge a filing fee for it (the government does state that you might be responsible for a small copying fee, but so far, I have never had a case where that fee would be asked to be paid). It takes about 2 months to get a copy of the file from an Immigration court, and may take up to 8 months to get a copy from USCIS.

Then, you might want to run self-background checks to see what criminal history and arrests if any your file contains. If your parent was ever petitioned by a sibling or his/her parent (your grandparent), or if your parent was in immigration court, you might want to order a copy of that parent’s file as well. Often, a child is mentioned in a parent’s case in Immigration court and a child can be ordered deported together with a parent, even though a child would not need to go with the parent to a court (a child’s appearance might have been waived by a judge).

It is essential to establish your Immigration history clearly before you start filing anything. If you need help ordering your file, or need a consultation, please call us at 917-885-2261.

14 February 2017
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