Requesting ancestors' immigration records from the
US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS;
formerly called Immigration and Naturalization
Services) may soon get easier. The April 20 Federal
Register, the government publication that records
goings-on in federal agencies, printed USCIS' proposal
for a program to handle your genealogy-related
requests for historical naturalization, alien registration
and other immigration records.
Currently, USCIS lumps those genealogical inquiries--
which number about 10,000 per year--with other
Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, creating a
huge backlog. FOIA restrictions rarely apply to USCIS'
historical records, anyway, because the subjects of the
old documents usually are deceased.
USCIS estimates the new genealogy program would
handle 26,000 requests per year, with fees for
searching indexes and copying records such as:
* Naturalization Certificate Files (C-files) dated
Sept. 27, 1906, to April 1, 1956, containing
information related to applications for citizenship
* Alien Registration Forms (AR-2) completed by aliens
age 14 and older who lived in or entered the United
States between Aug. 1, 1940, and March 31, 1944
* Visa Files, dated July 1, 1924, to March 31, 1944,
which contain information on immigrants admitted for
permanent residence under the Immigration Act of
* Registry Files, dated March 2, 1929, to March 31,
1944, containing information on immigrants who
entered the United States before July 1, 1924, whose
original arrival records were lost
* A-files, case files containing all an individual's
immigration records since April 1, 1944 (A-files dating
before May 1, 1951, would be handled as FOIA
The proposal is open for public comment until June 19.
Put in your two cents by visiting
Check Documents Open for Comment; choose USCIS
and Proposed Rules from the pull-down menus and
click Submit. Click the link under Document ID in the
results, then click the icon by Add Comments.
You also can e-mail rfs.regs(a)dhs.gov; include "DHS
Docket No. USCIS-2005-0062" in the subject line.