The first challenge to obtaining a waiver, or ascertaining the best way to overcome denial of entry into the United States is figuring out what information the U.S government has on you. The U.S. has a lot of information publicly available such as from here https://www.dhs.gov/foia-library and look here https://www.uscis.gov/records/electronic-reading-room. However, you also want to know what does the government have on you. The U.S government has many reasons to deny access to information, so figuring this out early can help you prepare the necessary documents. If you want to read the FOIA statute , it is here https://www.justice.gov/oip/freedom-information-act-5-usc-552
To do this, the U.S. even has a video you can watch at to make at https://www.foia.gov/how-to.html. Or look here, https://www.dhs.gov/steps-file-foia. With a FOIA request, you can access your own immigration records, someone else’s immigration records (if you have their written permission), and agency policies, data, communications, and other records. [CS1]
Where to Make the Request:
You can make a FOIA request to over 100 government agencies, including the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and/or the Department of Justice. There are many agencies and departments inside of each agency and ascertaining the correct place, and source of the information sought will streamline your FOIA request. For example, the libraries maintained by the DHS Privacy Office may lead to what you need, see https://www.dhs.gov/dhs-component-foia-logs A FOIA request may be done either in person or on the organization’s website.
How to Make the Request:
After ensuring the records are not publicly available[CS2] , you may begin the request. Do not delay your appeal, try to do so within 90 days after an adverse determination to file your appeal. No specific form is needed to make the request. Rather, you must make a written request that reasonably describes the kind of records you are looking for. [CS3] A common hurdle is ascertaining where to make the request, and using the correct “governmental” description for where the document is and what they may call it. This site may help https://www.dhs.gov/system-records-notices-sorns
This request should include your name, contact information (street or email address), and a brief description of records sought. If you are seeking records that contain personal information about yourself, provide a perjury statement and signature or notary. If you are seeking records that include personal information of a third party, you may receive greater access by providing a third party release statement.[CS4]
A FOIA request can be made for any agency record. You can also specify the format in which you wish to receive the records (for example, printed or electronic form). The FOIA does not require agencies to create new records or to conduct research, analyze data, or answer questions when responding to requests.[CS5] To get the most out of your request, try to be as precise as possible. A sample letter is available from the Federal Trade Commission. The government has “twenty working days” to respond, but can take longer.
A majority of the time, the government agency responds to your initial FOIA request by saying no records found. Do not assume that is the end of the line. Don’t worry, the government keeps everything, they just may forget where it is until you remind them or they want to use it against you. Filing an appeal or dispute is the best way to ensure you have all possible information. There are several reasons as to why you may wish to file an appeal.
For an administrative appeal, write a letter addressing why you believe the FOIA exemption(s) cited do not apply to the records you requested, or give reasons why they should be released regardless of whether the exemption(s) apply.[CS7] Including a description of why you need the records may strengthen your appeal. Numerous government agencies have example administrative appeal templates, including the Federal Trade Commission. Send this appeal to the USCIS FOIA/PA Appeals Office with the envelope clearly marked as “Freedom of Information Act Appeal”.[CS8] You have a minimum of 90 days to submit an appeal, with the exact deadline listed on your denial letter[CS9] . To address concerns with your request, you can visit the website of the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS).
It is common that an appeal after a “nothing is found” FOIA results in finding your information. The information may be redacted, but it is much easier for your immigration lawyer to have a hint what is there to find a solution. Also, the government provides a lot of free information you can use. You can obtain an insight into the process of FOIA appeals here, https://www.justice.gov/oip/oip-guidance/Adjudicating%20Administrative%20Appeals%20Under%20the%20FOIA
The Office of Information Policy has this resource on how government organizations must/should write about FOIA request. Helpful hints, and language to use is on the Department of Justice website, look: https://www.justice.gov/oip/template-agency-foia-regulations
Do not stop until you obtain your information.