Determine where the records you are seeking are kept.
The Department of State maintains the following visa records:
- Correspondence previously sent to or given to the applicant by the post
- Civil documents presented by the applicant
- Visa applications and any other documents submitted by the applicant to the Department in the form in which they were submitted.
Inquiries on visa cases in progress overseas should be made to the appropriate U.S. Embassy or Consulate handling your case.
Immigration records for individuals who already immigrated to the United States and have been issued a permanent resident alien card, also known as a “green card,” are with the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
For more information on where visa records are maintained, you may wish to view the Records Contact Information. You may also wish to visit the Office of Visa Services.
Public Access Link (PAL) portal
Register to create an online profile and Request records online using the Public Access Link (PAL) portal.
Draft Your Request
There is no special form required for making a request for personal records,
but your request must include either: 1) an original, notarized signature or
2) a statement signed under penalty of perjury using the following statement:
"I [declare, certify, verify, or state] under penalty of perjury under the laws
of the United States of America, that the foregoing is true and correct."
You may also use the Department’s Request for Individual Access to Records Protected under the Privacy Act form.
Click here for the fillable PDF form. You have three options for submitting the form:
1. Email to FOIARequest@state.gov
2. Fax to (202) 485-1669
3. Print and mail using the address provided in step 3
If you are providing consent and authorizing the agency to disclose your records
to another person or entity, you must also authorize the Department to release your records by completing the Consent for Disclosure of Records Protected under the Privacy Act form. Click
for the fillable PDF form.
If you are signing under penalty of perjury, your request should be dated and should have your signature with the following statement:
"I [declare, certify, verify, or state] under penalty of perjury under the laws of the United States of America, that the foregoing is true and correct.“
The following information should be provided with your request:
- Full Name (surname(s), given name(s), other distinguishing information (such as Jr., Sr., III), and any aliases or other names used)
- Date and place of birth (country, state/province, and city)
- Visa type (immigrant/non-immigrant, and specific type of visa within these broad categories)
- Location of embassy/consulate where visa was issued/denied/pending
- Case number or Receipt number if the Case number is unknown (this is for immigrant visas only)
- Whether the visa was issued or denied, and date of such action (if unknown, please provide an approximate range of dates)
- What specific documents are requested
- Current address and phone number
- Citizenship status
- Additional comments to help locate the record.
If you are requesting information concerning the application of an immigrant visa, you should provide a statement from the petitioner and all beneficiaries authorizing you to receive their personal information. This statement should have a signature and be dated and either notarized or submitted under penalty of perjury.
In general, under the provisions of the FOIA and Privacy Act, access to information about private individuals cannot be given to unauthorized third parties absent the individuals’ written consent. The Department of State can and will process requests without consent, but release of records will be severely limited to protect the privacy of the subject individuals.
Section (b)(3) of the Freedom of Information Act exempts from disclosure those agency records that are otherwise protected from release by federal statutes other than the FOIA. One such statute is section 222(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 USC, section 1202 (f)Opens this website http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/USCODE-2011-title8/html/USCODE-2011-title8-chap12-subchapII-partIII-sec1202.htm in new window.), which renders confidential those records of the Department of State pertaining to the issuance or refusal of visas or permits to enter the United States. As a result, you should be aware that information the Department is allowed to release is severely limited and visa records are generally exempt from disclosure under the (b)(3) exemption to the FOIA. This is the case regardless of whether the requester is a third party or the visa applicant him/herself.
Send your request to the Department of State
You may mail or fax your request for Department of State records to the following:
Office of Information Programs and Services
2201 C Street N.W., Suite B266
Washington, D.C. 20520-0000
Fax: (202) 485-1669
Please write “Freedom of Information Act" or “Privacy Act” on the envelope or the subject line of your fax.
If you submit a request that lacks sufficient information to enable us to process, you will be notified of what further information we need. In order to ensure the Department has everything we need to process your request, please review the Checklist for Personal Records and the appropriate checklist for visa requests (Checklist for Immigrant Visa Records or Checklist for Non-Immigrant Visa Records).