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Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Request - Frequently Asked Questions


Can I get a waiver of the filing fee for an FOIA request?

If you expect or are advised that a fee will be charged, you may request a waiver of those fees. However, fee waivers are limited to situations in which a requester can show that the disclosure of the requested information is in the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations and activities of the government and is not primarily in the commercial interest of the requester. Requests for fee waivers from individuals who are seeking records pertaining to themselves usually do not meet this standard because such disclosures usually will not result in any increase of the public's understanding of government operations and activities. In addition, a requester's inability to pay fees is not a legal basis for granting a fee waiver.

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Can I file an appeal if I am not satisfied with a Department of Homeland Security component’s initial response?

Yes, you may file an administrative appeal if you are not satisfied with a Department of Homeland Security component's initial response. You may file an appeal when:

  • You disagree with the component's withholding of information or you might believe that there are additional records responsive to your request that the component failed to locate
  • You have requested expedited processing or a fee waiver and the component has not granted that request

Note: Your appeal must be received within sixty days of the date of the component's determination letter.

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