Visit our site
JEGLAW LTD

twitter youtube facebook linkedin
OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS IN DISAPPOINTING DECISION VACATING STEM OPTIONAL PRACTICAL TRAINING RULE FOR FOREIGN STUDENTS

 

My Favorite Three Arguments for Open Borders

 

Affirmative Asylum Scheduling Bulletin

 

El Salvador's supreme court declares gangs terrorist groups

 

My Favorite Three Arguments for Open Borders

 

DHS Launches eFOIA App
 
August 2015
JEGLAW LTD - NEWSLETTER

WELCOME! JEGLAW LTD, directed by Jon Eric Garde, Esq., is professionally acknowledged as a leading immigration and nationality law office in the State of Nevada. JEGLAW LTD is a comprehensive immigration & nationality law practice and is prepared to address all citizenship applications, investment based procedures, family based and employment based procedures, removal defenses, asylum and related applications, and immigration related federal litigation. Philosophically, JEGLAW LTD understands that American business and society are fed and developed and not burdened by both common sense immigration law and a deep respect for human rights. Pragmatically, JEGLAW LTD is a client centered immigration and nationality law practice providing our clients with unmatched personal concern. Please enjoy this news article as our gift to you to keep up with the ever changing and dynamic field of Immigration and Nationality Law. With over 22 years of experience behind us, our pleasure and honor is to serve you!

OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS IN DISAPPOINTING DECISION VACATING STEM OPTIONAL PRACTICAL TRAINING RULE FOR FOREIGN STUDENTS

By Cyrus D. Mehta

I was at first greatly disappointed to find out that a federal district court judge vacated the 2008 STEM Optional Practical Training rule that extended practical training to F-1 students by an additional 17 months. However, if one reads Washington Alliance of Technology Workers (WashTech) v. DHS closely, the decision does not look so bad and provides an opportunity for the Obama administration to further expand STEM practical training, as promised in the November 20, 2015 executive actions for skilled workers

Foreign students can receive up to 12 months of OPT upon graduation. In 2008, the Department of Homeland Security under President Bush’s administration published regulations authorizing an additional 17-months extension of the OPT period for foreign students who graduated in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematical) fields. Plaintiffs WashTech challenged both the 12 month OPT and the STEM OPT. The challenge to the original 12 month OPT rule was dismissed, but on August 12, 2015,U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle vacated the rule that extended OPT by 17 months for a total period of 29 months for STEM graduates. The 2008 rule was published without notice and comment, and the court agreeing with the plaintiffs ruled that the DHS had not shown that it faced a true emergency situation that allowed the agency to issue the rule without notice and comment. 

It is disappointing that Judge Huvelle granted plaintiffs standing in the first place on the flimsy ground that they were currently employed as computer programmers, who were a subset of the STEM market. [Contrast this with the DC Circuit Court of Appeals ruling inArpaio v. Obama  two days later dismissing Sherriff Arpaio’s standing claim on the spurious grounds that the executive actions would serve as a magnet for attracting more undocumented immigrants to Arizona and fewer people would be deported as a result of these executive actions.] Although the plaintiffs in WashTech were not unemployed, Judge Huvelle speculated that “[a]n influx of OPT computer programmers would increase the labor supply, which is likely to depress plaintiffs’ members’ wages and threaten their job security, even if they remained employed.” It is also somewhat amusing that the judge found the F-1 and H-1B interrelated in order to justify that plaintiffs also had standing under the “zone of interests” doctrine. Without considering that the F-1 visa requires a non-immigrant intent while the H-1B allows for dual intent, the judge held that “F-1 and H-1B perform the interlocking task of recruiting students to pursue a course of study in the United States and retaining at least a portion of those individuals to work in the American economy.” 

While this is the bad part of WashTech, the good news is that Judge Huvelle left intact the legal basis for the OPT rule on the ground that the DHS is entitled to deference under Chevron USA, Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc. 467 U.S. 837 (1984). Pursuant to the oft quoted Chevron doctrine, courts will pay deference to the regulatory interpretation of the agency charged with executing the laws of the United States when there is ambiguity in the statute. The courts will step in only when the agency’s interpretation is irrational or in error. The Chevron doctrine has two parts. Step 1 requires an examination of whether Congress has directly spoken to the precise question at issue. If Congress had clearly spoken, then that is the end of the matter and the agency and the court must give effect to the unambiguous intent of the statute. Step 2 applies when Congress has not clearly spoken, then the agency’s interpretation is given deference if it is based on a permissible construction of the statute, and the court will defer to this interpretation even if it does not agree with it. 

Judge Huvelle in WashTech agreed that under Step 1 of Chevron, the provision pertaining to F-1 students at INA 101(a)(15)(F)(i) is  ambiguous and that Congress has not clarified the word “student”. It prescribes the eligibility criterion for a student to enter the United States, but does not indicate what a student may do after he or she has completed the educational program. Under Step 2 on Chevron, the 2008 rule was held to be a reasonable interpretation of the ambiguous statutory provision.  For over 50 years, Judge Huvelle acknowledged, the government has allowed students to engage in practical training relating to their field of studies, which Congress has never altered. Indeed, in the Immigration Act of 1990, Congress included a three-year pilot program authorizing F-1 student employment for positions that were “unrelated to their field of study.” Congress would only do this, Judge Huvelle reasoned, because Congress recognized that practical training regulations long existed that allowed students to engage in employment in fields related to their studies. The decision goes into fascinating detail describing the history of practical training from at least 1947. Even after Congress overhauled the law in 1952, practical training continued, and still continued even after the Immigration Act of 1990 overhauled the H-1B visa by setting a numerical limit and imposing various labor protections. The decision also cites old Board of Immigration Appeals decisions recognizing practical training such as Matter of T-, 1 I&N Dec. 682 (BIA 1958), which noted that the “length of authorized practical training should be reasonably proportionate to the period of formal study in the subject which has been completed by the student” and only in “unusual circumstances” would “practical training…be authorized before the beginning of or during a period of formal study.”   

Judge Huvelle finally and unfortunately, agreeing with the plaintiffs,  held that there was no emergency to justify the promulgation of the 2008 rule without notice and comment. H-1B oversubscription as a reason for the emergency in 2008 was “old hat” as the government conceded that the H-1B program has been consistently oversubscribed since 2004. Fortunately, Judge Huvelle sensibly realized that vacating the rule immediately would force “thousands of foreign students with work authorizations…to scramble to depart the United States.” Hence, the court stayed vacatur till February 12, 2016 during which time the DHS can submit the 2008 rule for proper notice and comment.  In the meantime, foreign students in STEM OPT have some respite, and those who are eligible for STEM OPT should be able to apply for a 17 month extension so long as they do so before February 12, 2016, although we need some affirmative guidance from the USCIS on this. 

The DHS now has a golden opportunity to expand practical training through notice and comment even beyond a total of 29 months, and must do so on or before February 12, 2016 in compliance with the WashTech decision. Despite the protestations of Senator Grassley, who like WashTec stridently opposes the notion of foreign student practical training, Judge Huvelle’s decision has blessed the legal authority of the DHS to implement practical training under Chevron deference. As discussed in my prior blog, Senator Grassley in his angry missive to the DHS had leaked that the DHS was  moving on new regulations to allow foreign students with degrees in STEM fields to receive up to a 24 month extension beyond the original 12 month OPT period even prior to the finalWashtech decision.  If a student obtains a new degree, he or she can again seek a 24 month extension after the original 12 month OPT period. The proposed regulations would further authorize foreign graduates of non-STEM  degree programs to receive the 24-month extension of the OPT period, even if the STEM degree upon which the extension is based is an earlier degree and not for the program from which the student is currently graduating (e.g. student has a bachelor’s in chemistry and is graduating from an M.B.A. program). 

While this will put tremendous pressure on the DHS to propose a rule for notice and comment before February 12, 2016, it would be well worth it before all talented foreign students who would otherwise benefit the United States are forced to leave. As a result of the H-1B cap, it is the STEM OPT that has allowed foreign students to be employed in the United States. The prospect of no STEM OPT combined with the limited number of H-1B visas annually would be devastating not only for the tech sector, but for American universities, foreign students and for the overall competitiveness of the United States.  WashTech may have successfully been able to obtain a vacatur of the 2008 rule effective February 12, 2016, but theirs is only a Pyrrhic victory since the court has essentially endorsed the legality of both the 12 month practical training periods and any extensions beyond that.

Source: http://blog.cyrusmehta.com/2015/08/opportunity-knocks-in-disappointing.html

 
My Favorite Three Arguments for Open Borders

There are a prodigious number of moral arguments for open borders. Openborders.info lists libertarian, utilitarian, egalitarian, and other types of cases for open borders, with a number of arguments within each category.  What are my favorite arguments for open borders?

Before answering this question, it is important to consider what constitutes a strong argument for open borders. First, it should be logical. Second, it should not be overly complicated, requiring layers of explanation. Finally, it should, in the words of Fabio Rojas, appeal to “basic moral intuition;” it should resonate emotionally. While each of the following arguments may not contain all of these elements, they have at least some of them.

In descending order of strength, here are the three best arguments, in my opinion:

1. Open borders allow people, not their place of birth, to control their lives.

This argument is based on the unfairness that some people are born into poverty in countries that offer little opportunity for them to improve their situations (not to mention that in some of these countries human rights abuses and violent conflict are endemic), while in other countries people are born into relative wealth and have ample opportunities to improve their situations. (For example, the poorest 5% of Americans earn more than 60% of the world’s population. (p. 21) ) Hopefully currently disadvantaged countries will catch up with the advantaged ones, but in the meantime it is unjust to block citizens of disadvantaged countries, through immigration restrictions, from accessing the opportunities available to those born in advanced countries by moving to those advanced countries. Among other negative consequences, restrictions prevent would-be immigrants from benefiting from the place premium, which allows a person from a disadvantaged country to earn much more in an advanced country, even without an increase in the person’s skills. (See also here and here.) An open borders policy addresses the unfairness associated with place of birth, while immigration restrictions maintain it. (Openborders.info communicates the argument thusly: “open borders rectifies a glaring and morally problematic inequality of opportunity based on birthplace.”)

One measure of the argument’s potency is its use by many open borders advocates. Joseph Carens, who made the idea of open borders “intellectually respectable,” states that

In a world of relatively closed borders like ours, citizenship is an inherited status and a source of privilege. Being born a citizen of a rich country in North America or Europe is a lot like being born into the nobility in the Middle Ages. It greatly enhances one’s life prospects (even if there are lesser and greater nobles). And being born a citizen of a poor country in Asia or Africa is a lot like being born into the peasantry in the Middle Ages. It greatly limits one’s life chances (even if there are some rich peasants and a few gain access to the nobility)… Is there some story that they [people in rich countries] can tell to the human beings on the other side of this rich-poor divide as to why these existing arrangements are fair? Would they think the arrangements were just if they were in the position of the excluded? I don’t think so.

Using the terms “geographical roulette,” Stephan Faris, author ofHomelands: The Case for Open Immigration, likewise notes that “our system of passport controls, immigration restrictions, and closed borders has created a world in which few factors shape a child’s life as much as one she can do nothing about: the flag under which she was born.”  Bryan Caplan of George Mason University states that “when most people are on earth are dealt such a bad hand, to try to stop them from bettering their condition seems a very cruel thing to do to someone.” And R. George Wright of Indiana University has written, in “Federal Immigration Law and the Case for Open Entry,” how those with the “undeserved good fortune to have been born in the United States resist… accommodation of the undeservedly less fortunate.”

I suggested that this argument is a powerful one in a previous post.  It is logical and simple. It also could appeal to the moral intuition of many, especially Americans, who oppose discrimination against others based on factors they cannot control. The American Civil Rights Act of 1964, for example, forbids discriminating against someone based on their skin color or gender, traits that people are born with. As Mr. Caplan asks, “What would you think about a law that said that blacks couldn’t get a job without government’s permission, or women couldn’t get a job without the government’s permission, or gays or Christians or anyone else? So why, exactly, is it that people who are born on the wrong side of the border have to get government permission just to get a job?”

2. If before you were born you didn’t know where you would be born (and who your parents would be) but could choose what the laws would be, you would choose laws allowing open borders because they could be key to your well-being.

This argument was developed by Mr. Carens. In “Aliens and Citizens: The Case for Open Borders,” he uses John Rawls’ question about “what principles people would choose to govern society if they had to choose from behind a ‘veil of ignorance,’ knowing nothing about their own personal situations,” such as their class, race, sex, or natural talents, to address immigration policy. (p. 255) Since people would be prevented “from knowing their place of birth or whether they were members of one particular society rather than another,” (p. 257) he concludes that they would choose an open borders regime: “In considering possible restrictions on freedom, one adopts the perspective of the one who would be most disadvantaged by the restrictions, in this case the perspective of the alien who wants to immigrate. In the original position, then, one would insist that the right to migrate be included in the system of basic liberties for the same reasons that one would insist that the right to religious freedom be included: it might prove essential to one’s plan of life… So, the basic agreement among those in the original position would be to permit no restrictions on migration (whether emigration or immigration).” (p. 258)  (The original position means when people operate behind the “veil of ignorance” about their personal situation when choosing society’s laws.)

This argument is very logical and probably appeals to the moral intuition (or at least the self-interest) of many people by helping them achieve a global perspective. I have not seen the argument used frequently, however, probably because its logic is somewhat intricate. It was used by John Tierney almost a decade ago in an op-ed calling for expanding immigration to the U.S. Despite its infrequent use, it is a potent case for open borders.

3. Immigrants, like everybody else, have a right to not to be harmfully coerced, and implementation of immigration restrictions constitutes harmful coercion. (Or, in the words of Mr. Caplan, leave people alone so they can go and make something out of their lives.)

This argument was formulated by Michael Huemer of the University of Colorado. In “Is There a Right to Immigrate?”  he argues that unless special circumstances can be identified, physically barring immigrants from entering a country and expelling those already inside a country are violations of immigrants’ rights not to be harmfully coerced. (p. 434) Mr. Huemer addresses a variety of justifications for this coercion against immigrants, including claims that immigration hurts native workers, that immigrants fiscally burden natives, that the government should prioritize the interests of disadvantaged natives, and that immigration threatens natives’ distinctive cultures. Mr. Huemer effectively shows that these justifications do not override immigrants’ right not to be harmfully coerced through immigration restrictions.

This argument is logical and straightforward. It is not necessarily morally intuitive, since some people see  government as being in the business of harmful coercion through taxation, regulation, and law enforcement, in order to serve the greater good. The hypothetical of “Starving Marvin” contained in Mr. Huemer’s paper humanizes the argument, however. In the hypothetical, Marvin, a potential immigrant in danger of starvation, seeks food by going to a seller in the U.S. The U.S. government, embodied in a person named Sam, forcibly prevents Marvin from reaching the U.S. Marvin then returns home and dies of starvation.

As I have mentioned elsewhere, Mr. Carens and Mr. Huemer include caveats to their arguments indicating that extremely harmfulswamping under open borders could override them. (Swamping refers to an immense migration flow in a short period of time.) Unfortunately, dispelling concerns about swamping is not as straightforward as presenting one of the three strong prima facie arguments enumerated in this post, since no one knows with certainty what migration flows might look like under open borders or what the effects of swamping would be, should it occur. Vipul has written posts which dispel concerns about swamping and suggest factors that would limit migration initially after implementing open borders, such as the availability of jobs, wage levels, connections in host countries, and moving arrangements. Declining birth rates in some countries, including Mexico, could be another limiting factor, as could strong ties to one’s home country, as Kevin Johnson suggests. (Opening the Floodgates: Why America Needs to Rethink Its Borders and Immigration Laws, p. 27)

One can also look at situations where borders are currently open for clues about migration flows under worldwide open borders. Philippe Legrain, in Immigrants: Your Country Needs Them, observes that Britain hasn’t been deluged with East Europeans despite the ability of citizens from relatively poor East European countries to come and work there. (p. 328) Mr. Johnson has written that despite the fact that the mainland U.S. has a per capita GDP twice that of Puerto Rico, most Puerto Ricans do not leave (p. 29), although many nations are much poorer relative to the U.S. and about a third of the people born in Puerto Rico have moved to the mainland U.S., which is a significant proportion.

On the other hand, co-blogger Nathan Smith, in his recently published paper “The Global Economic Impact of Open Borders,” writes that “Gallup polls have found that hundreds of millions of people worldwide would like to emigrate permanently. But economic models of open borders tend to predict that billions would actually emigrate.” Nathan suggests that these predictions, while uncertain, “deserve at least to be preferred to whatever casual assumptions may be harbored by untrained minds concerning the question.”

Assuming that billions migrate, Nathan’s research suggests, as does that of others, that world GDP would nearly double and that the living standards of unskilled workers worldwide would rise. The impact on Western countries that receive the bulk of the migration would be mixed, but generally positive: “… unskilled workers would see their wages driven down by competition from immigrants. There would be an enormous boom in investment, and elevated returns on capital for decades, as the world adapted to an enormously expanded effective labor supply.”  Nathan’s predictions about the impact on the U.S. political landscape in a forthcoming post similarly suggest significant changes, but not ones that should cause an open borders policy to be overriden.  Keyhole solutions would also be available to ameliorate the impact on receiving countries.

Uncertainty is always associated with radical policy changes, whether they be the abolition of slavery or the enfranchisement of women. This uncertainty should not prevent doing the right thing, however. The three arguments in this post powerfully show that, in the context of immigration policy, implementing open borders is the right thing to do.

Related reading

Open Borders editorial note: As described on our general blog and comments policies page: “The moral and intellectual responsibility for each blog post also lies with the individual author. Other bloggers are not responsible for the views expressed by any author in any individual blog post, and the views of bloggers expressed in individual blog posts should not be construed as views of the site per se.”

The photograph featured at the top of this post is of West and East German border police confronting each other, moments after a woman successfully crossed the interior German border in Berlin, 1955. Photo by Three Lions/Hulton Archive/Getty Images, via the Google Cultural Institute.

Affirmative Asylum Scheduling Bulletin

This Bulletin explains how the Asylum Division has prioritized the adjudication of affirmative applications for asylum.  On December 26, 2014, we began prioritizing asylum applications for interview scheduling as follows:

1.) Applications that were scheduled for an interview, but the interview had to be rescheduled at the applicant’s request or the needs of USCIS;

2.) Applications filed by children; and

3.) All other pending affirmative asylum applications in the order they were received, with oldest cases scheduled first.

Generally, applicants in the first and second categories are scheduled promptly.

The table below lists how the asylum offices are currently scheduling asylum interviews for applications pending in the third category.  It provides the filing dates (month and year) of most asylum applications scheduled for local interviews during that particular month.  We have created this system to provide applicants in the third category an estimate for when they might expect their interview to be scheduled.  The approximations provided in the table are based on interviews scheduled during the listed month and future movement will be determined by each office’s caseload and resources.   For example, in June 2015, the Arlington Asylum Office conducted interviews for applications filed in August 2013.  It currently does not include asylum interviews occurring outside of the eight asylum offices or the Boston sub-office (e.g. interviews occurring on circuit rides).  Asylum offices schedule circuit ride interviews as resources permit.  Please contact the asylum office with jurisdiction over your case for more detailed information. 

Please Note: The table does not include interviews for Form I-881, Application for Suspension of Deportation or Special Rule Cancellation of Removal (Pursuant to Section 203 of Public Law 105-100 (NACARA).

Interview Schedule for Affirmative Asylum Applicants in Category 3

This chart will be updated monthly.  Please check back for updated information.

If you live under
the jurisdiction of…

We scheduled
interviews in…

For people
who filed in…

Arlington, VA

July 2015

August 2013

June 2015

August 2013

May 2015

July 2013

April 2015

June-July 2013

Chicago, IL*

July 2015

May 2013

June 2015

May 2013

May 2015

May 2013

April 2015

May 2013

Houston, TX*

July 2015

April 2014

June 2015

April 2014

May 2015

April 2014

April 2015

March-April 2014

Los Angeles, CA*

July 2015

August 2011

June 2015

August 2011

May 2015

August 2011

April 2015

August 2011

Miami, FL*

July 2015

February 2013

June 2015

February 2013

May 2015

February 2013

April 2015

February 2013

Newark, NJ

July 2015

April 2013

June 2015

April 2013

May 2015

March 2013

April 2015

December 2012

New York, NY

July 2015

June-July 2013

June 2015

May-June 2013

May 2015

April 2013

April 2015

January 2013

San Francisco, CA

July 2015

July 2013

June 2015

July 2013

May 2015

June 2013

April 2015

May 2013

* Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles and Miami have been scheduling interviews in the first two categories due to high volumes in those categories as well as in the credible and reasonable fear caseloads.

Source: http://www.uscis.gov/

JEGLAW LTD - NEWSLETTER

WELCOME! JEGLAW LTD, directed by Jon Eric Garde, Esq., is professionally acknowledged as a leading immigration and nationality law office in the State of Nevada. JEGLAW LTD is a comprehensive immigration & nationality law practice and is prepared to address all citizenship applications, investment based procedures, family based and employment based procedures, removal defenses, asylum and related applications, and immigration related federal litigation. Philosophically, JEGLAW LTD understands that American business and society are fed and developed and not burdened by both common sense immigration law and a deep respect for human rights. Pragmatically, JEGLAW LTD is a client centered immigration and nationality law practice providing our clients with unmatched personal concern. Please enjoy this news article as our gift to you to keep up with the ever changing and dynamic field of Immigration and Nationality Law. With over 22 years of experience behind us, our pleasure and honor is to serve you!

El Salvador's supreme court declares gangs terrorist groups

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (AP) — El Salvador's supreme court declared the country's street gangs and those who finance them terrorist groups on Monday.

The court said the well-known Marasalvatrucha or MS-13 gang and any other gang that attempts to claim powers that belong to the state would be considered terrorists. It defined terrorism as the organized and systematic exercise of violence.

The court's declaration came as a denial to four attempts to declare the country's Special Law Against Terrorist Acts unconstitutional. The court found that telephone wiretaps and the freezing of funds belonging to third parties tied to terrorist groups are constitutional, among other issues.

The court spoke on the same day that El Salvador's attorney general said an order to kill gang members in a prison over the weekend came from inside another prison.

Luis Martinez said Monday that the slaughter of 14 gang members inside the Quezaltepeque prison in western El Salvador came from the San Francisco Gotera prison in the eastern part of the country.

The gang members were all strangled or stabbed to death on Saturday. They were members of the 18th Street Revolutionaries gang. Authorities said the killings were part of an internal "purge."

Martinez said authorities had information that a mass killing in a prison was coming, but they did not know where or when.

The murders were among 45 registered in the country Saturday and another 31 occurred on Sunday.

The gangs have intensified their attacks against authorities and public transportation in recent weeks in an attempt to pressure the government into negotiations. But the government has refused to bow to the gangs and has kept their leaders in maximum security prisons.

Source: http://bigstory.ap.org/urn:publicid:ap.org:320583dcbbae4a3ca3de0d90dbb6cbe5

 
Submit a FOIA request anytime, anywhere

I am pleased to announce the release of a new mobile application to further simplify and enhance the process for submitting Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. The Department of Homeland Security is committed to transparency and accountability and the eFOIA app is the latest in a series of efforts that the DHS Privacy Office has taken to help modernize FOIA processes and improve the customer experience. In fact, this is the first FOIA mobile app in the entire Federal Government.

Using their mobile devices, requesters can now submit requests and check the status of existing requests anyplace, anytime.

  • Key features of the new eFOIA app will allow users to:
  • Submit a FOIA request to any DHS Component
  • Check the status of FOIA requests Access all of the content on the FOIA website, including the FOIA Library
  • Receive updates, changes to events--such as stakeholder meetings/conference calls held by the Department, and recently published documents

DHS receives the largest number of FOIA requests of any federal agency, and produces the largest number of responses. We are continually working to improve our FOIA program by deploying advanced technology both for submitting and processing requests. These efforts include an improved online FOIA submission form, as well as a recently launched online check status capability.

As a result of these efforts, we are starting to see a steady reduction in the FOIA backlog. Since the beginning of Fiscal Year 2015, DHS has reduced its FOIA backlog by 20 percent, from 103,480 to 82,324 as of July 1, 2015.

The DHS Privacy Office created the eFOIA app in partnership with the DHS Office of the Chief Information Officer.

The free app is currently available for all Apple and Android devices.

DHS Launches eFOIA App

Submit a FOIA request anytime, anywhere

I am pleased to announce the release of a new mobile application to further simplify and enhance the process for submitting Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. The Department of Homeland Security is committed to transparency and accountability and the eFOIA app is the latest in a series of efforts that the DHS Privacy Office has taken to help modernize FOIA processes and improve the customer experience. In fact, this is the first FOIA mobile app in the entire Federal Government.

Using their mobile devices, requesters can now submit requests and check the status of existing requests anyplace, anytime.

Key features of the new eFOIA app will allow users to:

  • Submit a FOIA request to any DHS Component
  • Check the status of FOIA requests
  • Access all of the content on the FOIA website, including the FOIA
  • Library
  • Receive updates, changes to events--such as stakeholder meetings/conference calls held by the Department, and recently published documents

DHS receives the largest number of FOIA requests of any federal agency, and produces the largest number of responses. We are continually working to improve our FOIA program by deploying advanced technology both for submitting and processing requests. These efforts include an improved online FOIA submission form, as well as a recently launched online check status capability.

As a result of these efforts, we are starting to see a steady reduction in the FOIA backlog. Since the beginning of Fiscal Year 2015, DHS has reduced its FOIA backlog by 20 percent, from 103,480 to 82,324 as of July 1, 2015.

The DHS Privacy Office created the eFOIA app in partnership with the DHS Office of the Chief Information Officer.

The free app is currently available for all Apple and Android devices.