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Requesting past H-1B documents using a USCIS Freedom of Information Act(FOIA)

Tampa, FL |

I was the beneficiary of a 2009 H-1B approved petition, I only have the copy of I-797 approval for that H-1B petition. Rest of the documents were in a file which got lost when I changed apartments. Asking the employer who did my 2009 H-1B petition did not work since I am not working for them now so they don't want to cooperate. I want the documents since they are part of my immigration records.

1. If I request the 2008 H-1B petition details(like Labor Condition application and other supporting documents) via USCIS FOIA request, will the documents be redacted?

I don't think the documents should be redacted, since I am the beneficiary of the petition and these documents are required to be available for inspection 2. Can the FOIA request be done by a layman or I need an immigration attorney or a para-legal who has filed such requests?

Attorney Answers 6

  1. You can FOIA for the records. However, most of the employer information will be redacted since you do not have a right to that information. Remember a H1B petition belongs to the employer.

    800-688-7892, Law Office of Anu Gupta. The advice suggested here is for general information only. It is not to be construed as legal advice. We promise to zealously represent you - but as with any legal matter, we cannot predict the approval of your case based on our past successes. Each case is different. If you are in a similar situation, we would recommend that you contact us to discuss your case.

  2. What do you need those documents for? The approval should be all that you need as part of your immigration history documents.

    Lynne R. Feldman, Attorney at Law
    Concentrating in Immigration and Nationality Law
    2221 Camino Del Rio South, Suite 201
    San Diego, CA 92108
    phone: (619) 299-9600, facsimile: (619) 923-3277

    Formerly Adjunct Professor -- Immigration law
    University of Illinois College of Law

  3. Yes, if you name is on the papers.

    NYC EXPERIENCED IMMIGRATION ATTORNEYS; email:; Phone: (866) 456-­8654; Fax: 212-964-0440; Cell: 212-202-0325. The information contained in this answer is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter.

  4. If you just want the copies for your personal record-keeping, then you can do a FOIA but you will most likely get redacted copies. You might check with a Florida lawyer to see if the laws there give former employees any access to these documents. Otherwise, the only way to force a company to reveal information is by subpoena or court order.

    Law Office of Mary K. Neal | || 773-681-1335 This answer is intended as public information about a legal topic. Answers posted here do not create an attorney-client relationship. For specific legal advice, please make an appointment to speak with an attorney in private.

  5. This is a common problem with people on an H visa ... they don't realize that the visa is the property of the employer, not the employee.

    Whether or not you think it is right that the papers be redacted .... that's the law and you have to accept the reality of the situation .... which, excuse me for saying this, appears to be the result of you having lost the papers in the first place. The employer is only required to give you one copy ... the one you lost.

    Also, as one of my colleagues pointed out, all you really need is the approval notice.

    Meeting with an attorney would be an incredibly wise thing for you to do.

    PROFESSOR OF IMMIGRATION LAW for over 10 years -- This blog posting is offered for informational purposes only. It does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Also, keep in mind that this is an INTERNET BLOG. You should not rely on anything you read here to make decisions which impact on your life. Meet with an attorney, via Skype, or in person, to obtain competent personal and professional guidance.

  6. The LCA is required to be available for inspection, not the entire filing.

    J Charles Ferrari Eng & Nishimura 213.622.2255 The statement above is general in nature and does not constitute legal advice, as not all the facts are known. You should retain an attorney to review all the facts specific to your case in order to receive advise specific to your case. The statement above does not create an attorney/client relationship. Answers on Avvo can only be general ones, as specific answers would require knowledge of all the facts. As such, they may or may not apply to the question.

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