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Case TitleNikaj et al v. United States Department of State
DistrictWestern District of Washington
Case Number2:2018cv00496
Date Filed2018-04-04
Date Closed2019-06-25
JudgeU.S. District Judge John C Coughenour
PlaintiffSilvana Nikaj
PlaintiffCarney & Marchi, P.S.
DefendantUnited States Department of State
DefendantUS Department of State
Complaint attachment 1
Opinion/Order [5]
Opinion/Order [13]
Opinion/Order [15]
Opinion/Order [17]
Opinion/Order [23]
FOIA Project Annotation: A federal court in Washington has ruled that the Department of State properly withheld portions of Silvana Nikaj's visa application records under Exemption 3 (other statutes), Exemption 6 (invasion of privacy), and Exemption 7(E) (investigative methods and techniques). Nikaj requested her 2004, 2008, and 2014 non-immigrant visa refusals. The agency located 16 responsive records. The agency released two records in full but withheld 12 records in full and two records in part. The agency withheld the majority of the records under Exemption 3, citing the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. § 1202(f), which prohibits disclosure of records related to visa denials. Nikaj argued that since she had only requested records about her visa applications there should have been responsive information not related to the denial of her applications. The court disagreed, noting that "Plaintiff's FOIA request specifically asks for documents related to Plaintiff Nikaj's '2004, 2008, and 2014 non-immigrant visa refusals.' The FOIA request's own language requests documents that would fall squarely within 8 U.S.C. § 1202(f)." Nikaj challenged the use of Exemption 7 by the agency, arguing that denying a visa was not a law enforcement function. The court observed, however, that "the Government's determination about whether visa applications should be approved or denied, pursuant to U.S. immigration laws, is an administrative determination that has the 'salient characteristics of "law enforcement contemplated."' The Government compiled Documents 1 and 4-14 in order to determine whether Plaintiff Nikaj met the INA's qualifications for visa issuance. The Government has shown that, in responding to Plaintiff's FOIA request, its purpose fell within its sphere of INA enforcement authority and that the records were 'compiled for law enforcement purposes.'" Finding the records met Exemption 7's threshold, the court then found they were protected by Exemption 7(E). The court pointed out that "disclosure of the Government's visa application processes could lead to the circumvention of the law because it could allow potential applicants to cover up damaging information."
Issues: Exemption 3 - Statutory prohibition of disclosure, Exemption 7 - Law enforcement records, Exemption 7(E) - Investigative methods or techniques
User-contributed Documents
Docket Events (Hide)
Date FiledDoc #Docket Text

2018-04-041SUMMONS against defendant(s) United States Department of State. (Receipt # 0981-5267309), filed by Silvana NIKAJ. (Attachments: # 1 Civil Cover Sheet)(Marchi, Nicholas). Modified on 4/5/2018 (DJ). (Entered: 04/04/2018)
2018-04-042COMPLAINT PRAECIPE to attach document (Complaint) re 1 Complaint by Plaintiff Silvana NIKAJ (Marchi, Nicholas) Modified on 7/19/2018 to edit docket text to reflect pleading (TH). (Entered: 04/04/2018)
2018-04-05NOTICE to Filer: DOCUMENTS NOT ATTACHED TO COMPLAINT: In the future, please remember the Civil Cover Sheet, the Exhibits and all Summons(es) should be attachments to your Complaint. Thank you. (DJ) (Entered: 04/05/2018)
2018-04-05U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour added. (DJ) (Entered: 04/05/2018)
2018-04-05NOTICE to Filer: SUMMONS FORM INCOMPLETE: Summons cannot be issued because there is no address listed in the block for counsel and the defendant's name and address block is left blank. Please post your corrected summons using the event "Praecipe For a Summons " found under "Other Documents." All summons(es) should be posted under this one event. Because of the numerous errors in this case, in the future before opening a new case, please refer to the Attorneys' Guide to Opening a Civil Case found on the court's website at before starting the process. Thank you. (DJ) (Entered: 04/05/2018)
2018-04-083PRAECIPE TO ISSUE SUMMONS re Notice-Other,, by Plaintiff Carney & Marchi, P.S. (Marchi, Nicholas) (Entered: 04/08/2018)
2018-04-094Summons Electronically Issued as to defendant United States Department of State. (TH) (Entered: 04/09/2018)
2018-07-195MINUTE ORDER to Show Cause. Plaintiffs are ORDERED to show cause why this case should not be dismissed for want of prosecution. Plaintiffs' response is due within fourteen (14) days of this order. Authorized by U.S. District Judge John C Coughenour. (TH) (Entered: 07/19/2018)
2018-07-316ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF SERVICE of summons and complaint by Plaintiff Silvana Nikaj on 5/29/2018 (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit)(Marchi, Nicholas) (Entered: 07/31/2018)
2018-07-317RESPONSE TO ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE by Plaintiff Silvana Nikaj (Marchi, Nicholas) (Entered: 07/31/2018)
2018-10-048NOTICE of Appearance by attorney Michelle R. Lambert on behalf of Defendant United States Department of State. (Lambert, Michelle) (Entered: 10/04/2018)
2018-10-049ANSWER to 1 Complaint by United States Department of State.(Lambert, Michelle) (Entered: 10/04/2018)
2018-10-2410ORDER REGARDING DISCOVERY AND DEPOSITIONS by U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour. (PP) (Entered: 10/24/2018)
2018-10-2411MINUTE ENTRY re: STATUS CONFERENCE. The attorney who will be responsible for trying the case, or that attorney's representative, should attend the conference and be prepared to discuss the following matters at the conference: 1. An estimate of the number of days needed for trial; 2. The date by which the case will be ready for trial; 3. Whether the parties intend to mediate per LCR 39.1 and, if so, when the parties expect to complete mediation; If counsel's office is outside of the Greater Metropolitan Seattle area, local counsel should attend on behalf of non-local counsel. If local counsel is unavailable, non-local counsel may make arrangements to participate telephonically in the conference by contacting the Courtroom Deputy Clerk at at least TEN (10) DAYS in advance of the proceeding. Counsel do NOT need to file a Joint Status Report or Rule 26(f) Report in advance of the Status Conference. Counsel should plan on arriving 10-15 minutes early to check in with the Courtroom Deputy Clerk as the Court's calendar begins promptly at 9:00 a.m. COUNSEL OR THE PRO SE PARTY WHO FILED THIS MATTER SHALL IMMEDIATELY NOTIFY ALL PARTIES OF THE DATE AND TIME OF THE SCHEDULED STATUS CONFERENCE. A Status Conference is ordered set for 11/13/2018 at 9:00 AM in Courtroom 16206 before U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour. (PP) (Entered: 10/24/2018)
2018-11-0212STIPULATION AND PROPOSED ORDER re schedule by parties (Attachments: # 1 Proposed Order)(Lambert, Michelle) (Entered: 11/02/2018)
2018-11-0613MINUTE ORDER re parties' 12 Stipulation and Order re schedule . The Clerk is directed to VACATE the status conference, currently set for November 13, 2018. Defendant's dispositive motion is due by 1/11/2019; Plaintiffs' response and cross-motion is due by 2/8/2019; Defendants' reply and response to cross-motion is due by 3/1/2019; Plaintiffs' reply in support of its cross-motion is due by 3/22/2019. Authorized by U.S. District Judge John C Coughenour. (TH) (Entered: 11/06/2018)
2018-12-2614MOTION to Stay re 13 Minute Order,,, Terminate Deadlines and Hearings,,, Set Deadlines,, Briefing Schedule , filed by Defendant United States Department of State. (Attachments: # 1 Proposed Order) Noting Date 1/4/2019, (Lambert, Michelle) (Entered: 12/26/2018)
2019-01-0315MINUTE ORDER granting Defendant's unopposed 14 Motion to stay the briefing schedule. The briefing schedule is STAYED until appropriations have been restored to Defendant. The briefing schedule shall be EXTENDED by the number of days equal to the duration of the lapse of appropriations. Authorized by U.S. District Judge John C Coughenour. (PM) (Entered: 01/03/2019)
2019-01-3116NOTICE of Appropriations Received and PO re resetting deadline ; filed by Defendant United States Department of State. (Lambert, Michelle) (Entered: 01/31/2019)
2019-02-0117MINUTE ORDER re Defendant's 16 Notice of Appropriations Received and Order re resetting deadline . The stay in this case is LIFTED. The current briefing schedule (Dkt. No. 13 ) is EXTENDED to the following dates: Dispositive motions due by 2/15/2019, Response and Cross-Motion due by 3/15/2019, Reply in Support of Dispositive Motion and Response to Cross-Motion due by 4/10/2019, Reply in support of Cross-Motion due by 5/6/2019. Authorized by U.S. District Judge John C Coughenour. (TH) (Entered: 02/01/2019)
2019-02-1518MOTION for Summary Judgment , filed by Defendant United States Department of State. (Attachments: # 1 Proposed Order) Noting Date 5/6/2019, (Lambert, Michelle) (Entered: 02/15/2019)
2019-02-1519DECLARATION of Stein filed by Defendant United States Department of State re 18 MOTION for Summary Judgment (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit, # 2 Exhibit, # 3 Exhibit, # 4 Exhibit, # 5 Exhibit, # 6 Exhibit, # 7 Exhibit, # 8 Exhibit, # 9 Exhibit, # 10 Exhibit, # 11 Exhibit, # 12 Exhibit, # 13 Exhibit, # 14 Exhibit)(Lambert, Michelle) (Entered: 02/15/2019)
2019-03-1520CROSS-MOTION AND RESPONSE re 18 MOTION for Summary Judgment ., filed by Plaintiff Silvana Nikaj. Noting Date 5/6/2019, (Marchi, Nicholas) (Entered: 03/15/2019)
2019-04-1021REPLY, filed by Defendant US Department of State, TO RESPONSE to 18 MOTION for Summary Judgment , 20 CROSS-MOTION AND RESPONSE re 18 MOTION for Summary Judgment . (Lambert, Michelle) (Entered: 04/10/2019)
2019-05-0622REPLY, filed by Plaintiff Silvana Nikaj, TO RESPONSE to 18 MOTION for Summary Judgment (Marchi, Nicholas) (Entered: 05/06/2019)
2019-06-2523ORDER granting Defendant's 18 Motion for Summary Judgment; denying Plaintiffs' 20 Motion for Summary Judgment. Signed by U.S. District Judge John C Coughenour. (PM) (Entered: 06/25/2019)
2019-06-2524JUDGMENT BY COURT is entered in favor of Defendant US Department of State and against Plaintiffs Carney & Marchi, P.S., Silvana Nikaj. (PM) (Entered: 06/25/2019)
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by FOIA Project Staff
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