FOIA Exemptions B1, B2, B3, And B4 Training Materials Given To USCIS Processors


US-CIS recently released 90 pages of its training materials, dated March 11, 2020, on

Exemptions (b)(1), (b)(2), (b)(3), and (b)(4). The pages are posted on the “FOIA” page of the Louise Trauma Center, and are labeled “B1. B2. B3 and B4 Training 3-11-20.”

Some excerpts:

Exemption (b)(1) protects national security information (NSI), provided it has been classified under Executive Order 12958 {Page 3 of 90].

Executive Order 12958 prescribes a system for classifying, safeguarding NSI [Page 4 of 90]

The “Glomar” Response [Page 9 of 90].

Exemption (b)(2) protects internal personnel rules and practices of an agency. [page 12 of 90]

Exemption (b)(3) incorporates nondisclosure provisions contained in other statutes. [Page 15 of 90]

Some statutes leave no discretion in determining whether to withhold [Page 17 of 90]

Some statutes allow discretion, and allow partial disclosure [Page 18 of 90]

Judicial Watch, Inc. v. SSA: The SSA properly refused to disclose “no-match” letters under section 6103 of the Internal Revenue Code [Page 20 of 90]

Rule 6(e) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure [Page 22 of 90]

8 U.S.C. 1202(f), information about visas, are exempt [Page 24 of 90]

26 U.S.C. section 6103: Individuals are not entitled to information about themselves, if release would impair IRS enforcement [Page 49 of 90]

Compensation of Officers (on tax returns) [Page 60 of 90]

ETA Form 9089 U.S. Department of Labor [Page 65 of 90]

Exemption (b)(4) relates to government contracts with private businesses. [Page 69 of 90]

(b)(4) protects trade secrets, and commercial and financial information [Page 70 of 90]

An example of a trade secret: a design drawing of airplane fuel pumps [Page 80 of 90]

“Substantial Competitive Harm” could include data describing a company’s workforce and labor costs [Page 82 of 90]

Critical Mass [Page 83 of 90]

National Parks: disclosure would impair the Government’s ability to obtain necessary information in the future [page 84 of 90]

About The Author

David L. Cleveland, a lawyer in Washington, DC, has earned over $100,000 in attorney fees from the government in FOIA cases. He has also secured asylum or withholding for people from 48 countries. Contact him at

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