Immigration and naturalization records available

Jan. 26, 2010 at midnight
Updated Jan. 26, 2010 at 7:27 p.m.

Are you searching for immigration and naturalization records?

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service can help you locate documents usually within 90 days.

For $20, the government will run a search of the name as long as the person is deceased.

If there are records available the government charges additional fees for copies of the files.

In fiscal year 2009, more than 5,300 requests were made. In addition to relatives, family historians or researchers can also request files.

The documents typically include immigration information, often including exact hometowns in their ancestors' native countries.

The files often have information on brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles. Many times it is useful to obtain the records of your uncles, aunts and cousins who also immigrated from "the old country."

If the immigrant applied for American citizenship, the details are also included in these files.

For anyone of Japanese, German, or Italian origin, who lived in the United States during World War II, the documents often include FBI reports about the person's activities, including friends, family and political activities.

According to the USCIS Web site, the USCIS Genealogy Program offers two services:

Index Search: Using biographical information provided by the researcher, USCIS searches its historical immigration and naturalization record indices for citations related to a specific immigrant. Search results (record citations) are returned to the researcher, along with instructions on how to request the file(s) from USCIS or the National Archives. Fee: $20.

Record Copy Request: Researchers with valid record citations (USCIS file numbers), gained through a USCIS Genealogy Program index search or through independent research, may request copies of historical immigration and naturalization records. Fee: $20/$35 (depending on the record type).

Additional Records Available:

Naturalization Certificate Files (C-files) from Sept. 27, 1906 to April 1, 1956.

Alien Registration Forms from Aug. 1, 1940 to March 31, 1944.

Visa files from July 1, 1924 to March 31, 1944.

Registry Files from March 2, 1929 to March 31, 1944.

Alien Files (A-files) numbered below 8 million (A8000000) and documents therein dated prior to May 1, 1951.

To access the USCIS Web site, go online to On the bottom left column, click Genealogy and read about the USCIS Genealogy program.

Researchers are encouraged to read the Frequently Asked Questions before sending money.

2010 Census

This suggestion comes from Texas Tracer Karen Patterson: This is the year our country will conduct a census of all the people living in your household. It is very important to fill out and mail the form back to our government. However, before you return it, make a copy and place it in your genealogy files.

Future generation genealogists will be thrilled to find your 2010 census in your files. Remember the census we fill out this year will not be available for 72 years to future generations for research.

Happy immigration searching.

Send e-mail genealogy queries to Martha Jones



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