Home FBI Records/FOIA What Happens After Making a Request

What Happens After Making a Request

What Happens After Making a Request

How Long It Takes to Receive Information

  • We do our best to process requests as quickly and efficiently as possible.
  • Requests are divided into three different queues depending on the number of pages sought. Smaller requests are those consisting of 1 to 500 pages. Medium requests consist of 501 to 2,499 pages. Large requests—2,500 pages or more—take more time to process.
  • If your request appears to be 2,500 pages or more, a negotiator will contact you. Negotiation can be a worthwhile and useful tool, enabling the requestor to narrow his or her request and save time and money in the process. Other requestors can use the negotiation process once potential releasable pages have been identified.
  • To check on the status of an existing request or related matters, you may call David P. Sobonya, FOI/PA Public Information Officer, at (540) 868-4593. Our Public Information Officer cannot answer questions about name check requests; all calls on name checks will be referred to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service. If the Public Information Officer is unavailable, please leave a brief message that includes your name, telephone number, and FOI/PA Request Number (if applicable). Your telephone call will be returned promptly.

What You Will Receive After FBI Processing

  • A release letter—commonly called an “OPCA16”—is sent to you, along with all releasable documents.
  • The release letter explains any exemptions (Title 5, U.S. Code, Section 552/552a) that were used during processing. Each exemption used will have a check mark in its respective block. Please see the Freedom of Information Act exemptions and Privacy Act exemptions for more information.
  • The release letter will cite the number of pages reviewed and the number of pages being released.
  • Note: If there are any duplication and/or processing fees, the release letter will state the cost and provide instructions on where to send payment. Only upon our direction should payment be submitted.


If you are not satisfied with the results of the release, you may file an administrative appeal with the Director of the Office of Information Policy at the U.S. Department of Justice. Address your appeal as follows:

Freedom of Information Appeal
Office of Information Policy
U.S. Department of Justice
Suite 11050
1425 New York Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20530-0001

Your appeal must be received by the Office of Information Policy within 60 days of the date of your release letter in order to be considered timely.

Note: please do not send your appeal request directly to the FBI, which does not review appeals.