Marti Cuevas

I need to access the records at the US Embassy in Santo Domingo to determine the reasons a Dominican National was denied a visa. I know I have to request these records from the State Department.

Jack R-W

I am not so sure that you will be able to do that. To request general visa documents, you will need a privacy waiver from the person who you are looking for information about, and then you’ll need to file a request with State. Be warned, they are slow. Very slow.

Marti Cuevas

Thank you for your response. I understand that a journalist can obtain such records without the certificate of authorization. Is that true?

Jack R-W

I believe you can get the records without the authorization letter if the request is in the public interest, but it will be a very hard test to pass.

Marti Cuevas

Thank you Jack. This is a very special situation, and it has to do with a very high profile copyright infringement case - the contents of the consular file would probably turn the outcome of the case totally around. Is there a way to speak with someone by phone?

Jack R-W

Someone at the State Department?

Marti Cuevas

Someone to get advice on a FOIA letter.

Marti Cuevas

Someone to get advice on a FOIA letter.

Jack R-W

No phone number that I am aware of. You can just ask questions and I can probably answer them.

Marti Cuevas

Thank you for replying! A FOIA request by a journalist has already been sent, and the State Department requested additional information, which was provided - they are waiting for a response. When reading the rules, I note that it is difficult, but not prohibited, for one to make a FOIA request in connection with a litigation. In this particular case, the entire future of a small indie company depends on proving that the petitioner for the US visa was denied in connection with multiple identities or similar. Can you give me your thoughts and recommendations on how to go about crafting the FOIA letter?

Jack R-W

If there is a FOIA request already in for the same topic, you don’t need to send another one. If that request is unrelated, the best way to send a request is to use a boilerplate template. It will be hard to get documents if there is ongoing litigation. In your case, you should start with a boilerplate template, describe what you are looking for, and then explain why your request is in the public interest. The last part is necessary to get past the required privacy waiver, so you’ll need to be very convincing.

Marti Cuevas

thank you I will wait and see the reply on the journalist’s request.

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