[Federal Register Volume 72, Number 9 (Tuesday, January 16, 2007)]
[Pages 1755-1759]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E7-375]



Office of the Secretary

[Docket No. DHS-2006-0081]

Privacy Act; Alien File (A-File) and Central Index System (CIS) 
Systems of Records

AGENCY: Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

ACTION: System of records notice.


SUMMARY: As part of its ongoing effort to review and update legacy 
system of records notices, the Department of Homeland Security is 
publishing a revision to the previously established Privacy Act system 
of records notice published by the former Immigration and 
Naturalization Service for hardcopy and digitized A-Files; and the 
Central Index System. The Department of Homeland Security is also 
updating the routine uses that were previously published for this 
system of records.

DATES: Written comments must be submitted on or before February 15, 

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by Docket Number DHS-
2006-0081 by one of the following methods:
     Federal e-Rulemaking portal: http://www.regulations.gov. 
Follow the instructions for submitting comments via docket number DHS 
     Fax: (202-572-8727) (not a toll-free number).
     Mail: Hugo Teufel III, DHS Chief Privacy Officer, 
Department of Homeland Security, Washington, DC 20528.
    Instructions: All submissions received must include the agency name 
and docket number for this rulemaking. All comments received will be 

[[Page 1756]]

without change to http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal 
information provided.
    Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or 
comments received go to http://www.regulations.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For general questions, please contact: 
Elizabeth Gaffin, 20 Massachusetts Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20529, 
by telephone (202) 272-1400. For privacy issues, please contact: Hugo 
Teufel III (571-227-3813), Chief Privacy Officer, Privacy Office, U.S. 
Department of Homeland Security, Washington, DC 20528.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), 
implements United States immigration law and policy through the United 
States Citizenship and Immigration Services' (USCIS) processing and 
adjudication of applications and petitions submitted for citizenship, 
asylum, and other immigration benefits. USCIS also supports national 
security by preventing individuals from fraudulently obtaining 
immigration benefits and by denying applications from individuals who 
pose national security or public safety threats. United States 
Immigration policy and law is also implemented through Immigration and 
Customs Enforcement's (ICE) law enforcement activities and Customs and 
Border Protection's (CBP) inspection process and protection of our 
    The A-File is the record that contains copies of information 
regarding all transactions involving an individual as he/she passes 
through the U.S. immigration and inspection process. Previously, legacy 
Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) handled all of these 
transactions. Since the formation of DHS, however, these 
responsibilities have been divided among USCIS, ICE, and CBP. While 
USCIS is the custodian of the A-File, all three components create and 
use A-Files.
    DHS, in its ongoing effort to update its legacy systems, is issuing 
the A-File and CIS system of records notice, DHS-USCIS 001. A notice 
detailing this system of records was last published in the Federal 
Register on September 7, 2001, as the INS Alien File (A-File) and 
Central Index System (CIS), JUSTICE/INS-001A (66 FR 46812). Until now, 
pursuant to the savings clause in the Homeland Security Act of 2002, 
Public Law 107-296, sec. 1512, 116 Stat. 2310 (Nov. 25, 2002) (6 U.S.C. 
552), the USCIS has been relying on legacy Privacy Act systems.

Digitization of the A-File

    To support current immigration operations, USCIS, ICE and CBP 
assemble paper-based A-Files that contain official record documents and 
attachments pertaining to individuals. These hardcopy A-Files are 
routed to authorized DHS employees who need access to them for 
immigration benefits processing, law enforcement, and protection of 
national security. USCIS is embarking on an enterprise-wide 
``Transformation Program'' that will transition the agency from a 
fragmented, paper-based operational environment to a centralized and 
consolidated electronic environment. The new operational environment 
will employ the types of online customer accounts used in the private 
sector. This ``person-centric'' model will link information related to 
an individual in a single account in order to facilitate customer 
friendly transactions, track activities, and reduce identity fraud.
    USCIS, as custodian of the A-File and part of the Transformation 
Program, has developed the Integrated Digitization Document Management 
Program (IDDMP) to provide electronic creation of, and access to, A-
Files. The IDDMP manages the scanning of hard copy A-Files, the storage 
of the digitized A-Files, and electronic access to digitized A-Files.
    Scanning is performed at a contractor owned and operated facility 
called the Records Digitization Facility (RDF). The digitized A-Files 
produced by the RDF are sent to USCIS' Quality Assurance (QA) system. 
After QA is performed, they are stored centrally, and images within the 
A-File are accessed and updated using the Electronic Data Management 
System (EDMS). For the purpose of this document, the RDF, QA system, 
and EDMS will be collectively referred to as the IDDMP. Access to the 
digitized A-Files is provided to DHS and other Federal, state, tribal, 
local or foreign government agencies responsible for providing 
benefits, investigating or prosecuting violations of civil or criminal 
laws, or protecting our national security.
    The Privacy Act embodies Fair Information principles in a statutory 
framework governing the means by which the United States Government 
collects, maintains, uses, and disseminates personally identifiable 
information. The Privacy Act applies to information that is maintained 
in a ``system of records.'' A ``system of records'' is a group of any 
records under the control of an agency from which information is 
retrieved by the name of an individual or by some identifying number, 
symbol, or other identifying particular assigned to the individual. 
Individuals may request their own records that are maintained in a 
system of records in the possession or under the control of DHS by 
complying with DHS Privacy Act regulations, 6 CFR 5.21.
    The Privacy Act requires that each agency publish in the Federal 
Register a description denoting the type and character of each system 
of records in order to make agency recordkeeping practices transparent, 
to notify individuals about the use to which personally identifiable 
information is put, and to assist the individual to more easily find 
files within the agency.
    In accordance with 5 U.S.C. 552a(r), DHS has provided a report of 
this revised system of records to the Office of Management and Budget 
and to the Congress.

System name:
    The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Alien File (A-File--
hardcopy or digitized copy) and Central Index System (CIS)

System location:
    The database housing the digitized A-Files is located within USCIS' 
data center in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. Hard copies are 
located at Headquarters, Regional, District, and other USCIS file 
control offices in the United States and foreign countries as detailed 
on the agency's Web site, http://www.USCIS.gov. Authorized USCIS, ICE, 
and CBP personnel may request and view the paper A-File. Paper A-Files 
are sent and received by file control offices. USCIS will directly 
access digitized A-Files using the IDDMP. ICE and CBP access to the 
digitized A-File via the IDDMP will be provided through the Law 
Enforcement Service Center (LESC). CIS is available in USCIS offices. 
Remote access terminals for CIS will also be located in other 
components of the DHS on a limited basis.

Categories of individuals covered by the system:
    A. Individuals covered by provisions of the Immigration and 
Nationality Act of the United States.
    B. Individuals who are under investigation (including those who are 
possible national security threats or threats to the public safety), or 
who were investigated by the DHS in the past, or who are suspected of 
violating immigration-related criminal or civil provisions of treaties, 
statutes, regulations, Executive Orders, and Presidential proclamations 

[[Page 1757]]

by DHS, and witnesses and informants having knowledge of such 

Categories of records in the system:
    A. The hardcopy paper A-File (which, prior to 1940, was called 
Citizenship File (C-File) contains all the individual's official record 
material such as: naturalization certificates; various forms and 
attachments (e.g., photographs); applications and petitions for 
benefits under the immigration and nationality laws; reports of 
investigations; statements; reports; correspondence; and memoranda on 
each individual for whom DHS has created a record under the Immigration 
and Nationality Act. Subsets of information may be used to determine 
eligibility for citizenship under Section 320 of the Immigration and 
Nationality Act.
    B. The electronic copy of the A-File provided by IDDMP's digital 
repository contains scanned images of the paper A-File searchable using 
identical index fields as CIS.
    C. CIS contains personal identification data such as A-File number, 
date and place of birth, date and port of entry, as well as the 
location of each official hardcopy paper A-File.

Authority of maintenance for the system:
    Sections 103 and 290 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as 
amended (8 U.S.C. 1103 and 1360), and the regulations issued pursuant 
thereto; and section 451 of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (Pub. L. 

    A-File data is collected on individuals covered by provisions of 
the Immigration and Nationality Act of the United States and 
individuals who are under investigation, who were investigated by the 
DHS in the past, who are suspected of violating the immigration-related 
laws administered by DHS, or are witnesses and informants having 
knowledge of such violations. The A-File is the record that contains 
all transactions involving an individual as he/she passes through the 
U.S. immigration and inspection process, and chronicles interactions 
with the U.S. Government. Previously, legacy INS performed all of these 
    Since the formation of DHS, these immigration-related functions 
have been divided among the following three components: (1) CBP, which 
performs the border and inspection processes; (2) USCIS, which performs 
the immigration benefit adjudication process; and (3) ICE, which 
performs the investigatory, deportation, and immigration court 
functions. Although USCIS is the custodian of the A-File, all three 
components create and use A-Files. Once the A-File is digitized, 
information will be accessed by USCIS, ICE, and CBP so that they may 
perform their mission requirements. Information contained within the A-
File may also be shared with other components within DHS responsible 
for law enforcement and national security intelligence activities.
    The CIS system is used primarily by DHS employees for immigration 
benefits processing, protection of national security, and to administer 
and enforce immigration and nationality laws, and related statutes. 
These uses include: Assisting the Department with processing 
applications for benefits under applicable immigration laws; detecting 
violations of these laws; the referral of such violations for 
prosecution; law enforcement; the inspection process; and protection of 
our borders.

Routine uses of records maintained in the system, including categories 
of users and the purposes of such uses:
    In addition to those disclosures generally permitted under 5 U.S.C. 
552a(b) of the Privacy Act, all or a portion of the records or 
information contained in this system may be disclosed to authorized 
entities, as is determined to be relevant and necessary, outside DHS as 
a routine use pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 552a(b)(3) as follows:
    A. To clerks and judges of courts exercising naturalization 
jurisdiction for the purpose of filing petitions for naturalization and 
to enable such courts to determine eligibility for naturalization or 
grounds for revocation of naturalization.
    B. To the Department of State in the processing of petitions or 
applications for benefits under the Immigration and Nationality Act, 
and all other immigration and nationality laws including treaties and 
reciprocal agreements.
    C. To appropriate Federal, state, tribal, and local government law 
enforcement and regulatory agencies, foreign governments, and 
international organizations, for example: the Department of Defense; 
the Department of State; the Department of the Treasury; the Central 
Intelligence Agency; the Selective Service System; the United Nations; 
and INTERPOL; as well as to other individuals and organizations during 
the course of an investigation by DHS or the processing of a matter 
under DHS' jurisdiction, or during a proceeding within the purview of 
the immigration and nationality laws, when DHS deems that such 
disclosure is necessary to carry out its functions and statutory 
mandates to elicit information required by DHS to carry out its 
functions and statutory mandates.
    D. To an appropriate Federal, state, tribal, local, or foreign 
government agency or organization, or international organization, 
lawfully engaged in collecting law enforcement intelligence, whether 
civil or criminal, or charged with investigating, prosecuting, 
enforcing or implementing civil or criminal laws, related rules, 
regulations or orders, to enable these entities to carry out their law 
enforcement responsibilities, including the collection of law 
enforcement intelligence and the disclosure is appropriate to the 
proper performance of the official duties of the person receiving the 
    E. To the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) (including 
United States Attorneys' offices) or other Federal agency conducting 
litigation or in proceedings before any court, adjudicative or 
administrative body, or to the court or administrative body, when it is 
necessary to the litigation and one of the following is a party to the 
litigation or has an interest in such litigation: (1) Any employee of 
DHS in his/her official capacity; (2) any employee of DHS in his/her 
individual capacity where DOJ or DHS has agreed to represent said 
employee; or (3) the United States or any agency thereof.
    F. To an appropriate Federal, state, local, tribal, territorial, 
foreign, or international agency, if the information is relevant and 
necessary to a requesting agency's decision concerning the hiring or 
retention of an individual, or issuance of a security clearance, 
license, contract, grant, or other benefit, or if the information is 
relevant and necessary to a DHS decision concerning the hiring or 
retention of an employee, the issuance of a security clearance, the 
reporting of an investigation of an employee, the letting of a 
contract, or the issuance of a license, grant or other benefit and when 
disclosure is appropriate to the proper performance of the official 
duties of the person making the request.
    G. To the Office of Management and Budget in connection with the 
review of private relief legislation as set forth in OMB Circular No. 
A-19 at any stage of the legislative coordination and clearance process 
as set forth in the Circular.
    H. To an attorney or representative (as defined in 8 CFR 1.1(j)) 
who is acting on behalf of an individual covered by this system of 
records in connection with any proceeding before USCIS or the Executive 
Office for Immigration Review.

[[Page 1758]]

    I. To a Federal, state, tribal, or local government agency to 
assist such agencies in collecting the repayment of loans, or 
fraudulently or erroneously secured benefits, grants, or other debts 
owed to them or to the United States Government, or to obtain 
information that may assist USCIS in collecting debts owed to the 
United States Government; to a foreign government to assist such 
government in collecting the repayment of loans, or fraudulently or 
erroneously secured benefits, grants, or other debts owed to it 
provided that the foreign government in question:
    (1) Provides sufficient documentation to establish the validity of 
the stated purpose of its request; and
    (2) Provides similar information to the United States upon request.
    J. To student volunteers whose services are accepted pursuant to 5 
U.S.C. 3111 or to students enrolled in a college work-study program 
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 2751 et seq.
    K. To a Congressional office from the record of an individual in 
response to an inquiry from that Congressional office made at the 
request of that individual.
    L. To the National Archives and Records Administration or other 
Federal government agencies pursuant to records management inspections 
being conducted under the authority of 44 U.S.C. 2904 and 2906.
    M. To an obligor who has posted a bond with USCIS for the subject. 
USCIS may provide only such information as either may:
    (1) Aid the obligor in locating the subject to insure his or her 
presence when required by DHS; or
    (2) Assist the obligor in evaluating the propriety of the following 
actions by DHS: either the issuance of an appearance demand or notice 
of a breach of bond--i.e., notice to the obligor that the subject of 
the bond has failed to appear which would render the full amount of the 
bond due and payable.
    N. To a coroner for purposes of affirmatively identifying a 
deceased individual (whether or not such individual is deceased as a 
result of a crime).
    O. Consistent with the requirements of the Immigration and 
Nationality Act, to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), 
the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), or to any state 
or local health authorities, to:
    (1) Provide proper medical oversight of DHS-designated civil 
surgeons who perform medical examinations of both arriving aliens and 
of those requesting status as a lawful permanent resident; and
    (2) To ensure that all health issues potentially affecting public 
health and safety in the United States are being or have been, 
adequately addressed.
    P. To a Federal, state or local government agency seeking to verify 
or ascertain the citizenship or immigration status of any individual 
within the jurisdiction of the agency for any purpose authorized by 
    Q. To contractors and their agents, grantees, experts, consultants, 
and others performing or working on a contract, service, grant, 
cooperative agreement, or other assignment for DHS, when necessary to 
accomplish an agency function related to this system of records. Those 
provided information under this routine use are subject to the same 
Privacy Act limitations as are applicable to DHS officers and 
    R. To the appropriate Federal, state, local, tribal, territorial, 
or foreign, or international agency responsible for investigating, 
prosecuting, enforcing, or implementing a statute, rule, regulation, or 
order, where DHS becomes aware of, or in conjunction with other 
information determines, that a violation or potential violation of 
civil or criminal law has occurred.
    S. To the Social Security Administration (SSA) for the purpose of 
issuing a Social Security number and card to an alien who has made a 
request for a Social Security number as part of the immigration process 
and in accordance with any related agreements in effect between the 
SSA, DHS and the Department of State entered into pursuant to 20 CFR 
422.103(b)(3); 422.103(c); and 422.106(a), or other relevant laws and 
    T. To a former employee of DHS, in accordance with applicable 
regulations, for purposes of: responding to an official inquiry by a 
Federal, state, or local government entity or professional licensing 
authority; or facilitating communications with a former employee that 
may be necessary for personnel-related or other official purposes where 
the Department requires information or consultation assistance from the 
former employee regarding a matter within that person's former area of 
    U. To an individual's prospective or current employer to the extent 
necessary to determine employment eligibility.
    V. To Federal and foreign government intelligence or 
counterterrorism agencies or components where DHS becomes aware of an 
indication of a threat or potential threat to national or international 
security, or where such use is to assist in anti-terrorism efforts and 
disclosure is appropriate to the proper performance of the official 
duties of the person making the disclosure;
    W. To appropriate agencies, entities, and persons when:
    (1) It is suspected or confirmed that the security or 
confidentiality of information in the system of records has been 
    (2) It is determined that as a result of the suspected or confirmed 
compromise there is a risk of harm to economic or property interests, 
identity theft or fraud, or harm to the security or integrity of this 
system or other systems or programs (whether maintained by DHS or 
another agency or entity) that rely upon the compromised information; 
    (3) The disclosure is made to such agencies, entities, and persons 
when reasonably necessary to assist in connection with efforts to 
respond to the suspected or confirmed compromise and prevent, minimize, 
or remedy such harm.

Policies and practices for storing, retrieving, accessing, retaining 
and disposing of records in the system:
    Paper A-File and C-File records are stored in file folders. The 
digitized A-Files are stored in an electronic repository housed in 
USCIS' data center. CIS data is also stored in USCIS data center.

    The location of paper A-Files can be searched in CIS on the 
following metadata: A-Number; C-File number; name; and date of birth. 
Digitized A-Files can be searched and retrieved by metadata, which at a 
minimum includes: primary A-Number; first name; last name; date of 
birth; and country of birth. Full-text searches can also be performed 
on the digitized A-Files.

    USCIS offices are located in buildings under security guard or 
authorized contractors for the Federal government, and access to 
premises is by official identification. Information in this system is 
also safeguarded in accordance with applicable laws, rules and policies 
including the DHS Information Technology Security Programs Handbook. 
All records are protected from unauthorized access through appropriate 
administrative, physical, and technical safeguards including 
restricting access to authorized personnel who require information in 
the records for the performance of their official authorized duties, 
using locks, and password

[[Page 1759]]

protection identification features. The system will not have classified 
    Outside agencies will not have direct access to the IDDMP. They 
will follow the current practice for accessing physical A-Files, which 
is to appear in person at the local USCIS office. They are required per 
the USCIS Records Operations Handbook, to work with their local USCIS 
office to view A-File information. After showing proper credentials and 
demonstrating a need to know the specific information requested in the 
performance of their official duties, the representative will work 
directly with USCIS records personnel to view the relevant portions of 
the A-File.

Retention and Disposal:
    The A-File records are retained for 75 years from the date the file 
is retired to the Federal Records Center or date of last action 
(whichever is earlier) and then destroyed. C-File records are to be 
destroyed 100 years from March 31, 1956. Automated master index records 
are permanent and are scheduled to be transferred to NARA in 2006. When 
a paper A-File is digitized, the digitized A-File becomes the official 
record and maintains the same retention schedule as the original paper 
A-File. Options for disposition of paper A-Files that have been 
digitized are currently under review.

System manager(s) and address:
    The Service-wide system manager is the Director, Office of Records 
Services, Department of Homeland Security, 111 Massachusetts Avenue, 
NW., Second Floor, Washington, DC 20529.

Notification procedure:
    To determine whether this system contains records relating to you, 
provide a written request containing the following information:
    1. Identification of the record system;
    2. Identification of the category and types of records sought; and
    3. The requesting individual's signature and verification of 
identity pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1746, which permits statements to be 
made under penalty of perjury. Alternatively, a notarized statement may 
be provided.
    Address inquiries to the system manager at: Director, Office of 
Records Services, Department of Homeland Security, 111 Massachusetts 
Avenue, NW, Second Floor, Washington, DC 20529 or to the Freedom of 
Information/Privacy Act Office at: Freedom of Information/Privacy Act 
Office, USCIS, National Records Center, P.O. Box 648010, Lee Summit, MO 

Record access procedures:
    All requests for access must be made in writing and addressed to 
the Freedom of Information Act/Privacy Act (FOIA/PA) officer at USCIS. 
Requesters are directed to clearly mark the envelope and letter 
``Privacy Act Request.'' Within the text of the request, provide the A-
File number and/or the full name, date and place of birth, and either a 
notarized signature of the individual who is the subject of the record 
or a statement requesting individual's signature and verification of 
identity pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1746, which permits statements to be 
made under penalty of perjury, and any other information which may 
assist in identifying and locating the record, and a return address. 
For convenience, Form G-639, FOIA/PA Request, may be obtained from the 
nearest DHS office or online at http://www.uscis.gov and used to submit 
a request for access. The procedures for making a request for access to 
one's records can also be found on the USCIS Web site, located at 

Contesting records procedures:
    Redress procedures are established and operated by the program 
through which the data was originally collected. In the case of redress 
requests pertaining to records held by DHS organizations, an individual 
who is not satisfied with the response can appeal his or her case to 
the DHS Chief Privacy Officer, who will conduct a review and provide 
final adjudication on the matter.

Record source categories:
    Basic information contained in DHS records is supplied by 
individuals on Department of State and DHS applications and forms. 
Other information comes from inquiries or complaints from members of 
the general public and members of Congress; referrals of inquiries or 
complaints directed to the President or Secretary of Homeland Security; 
USCIS reports to investigations, sworn statements, correspondence, 
official reports, memoranda, and written referrals from other entities, 
including federal, state, and local governments, various courts and 
regulatory agencies, foreign government agencies and international 

Exemptions claimed for the system:
    Pursuant to 6 CFR Appendix C to Part 5, pertaining to the 
Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) Alien File (A-File) and 
Central Index System (CIS), JUSTICE/INS-001A (66 FR 46812) system of 
records notice, the records and information in this system are exempt 
from 5 U.S.C. 552a (c) (3) and (4), (d), (e) (1), (2), and (3), (e)(4) 
(G) and (H), (e) (5) and (8), and (g) of the Privacy Act. These 
exemptions apply only to the extent that records in the system are 
subject to exemption pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 552a (j)(2) and (k)(2). DHS 
intends to review these exemptions and, if warranted, issue a new set 
of exemptions within ninety (90) days of this publication.

    Dated: January 5, 2007.
Hugo Teufel III,
Chief Privacy Officer.
 [FR Doc. E7-375 Filed 1-12-07; 8:45 am]