The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service has launched a program to make it easier to find 20th century immigrant ancestors. The agency started this Genealogy program to streamline the process of finding information.
The USCIS Genealogy Program is a fee-for-service program providing family historians and other researchers with access to historical immigration and naturalization records. This 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: $20.00.
*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: $20.00/$35.00 (depending on the record type).
Records available through the USCIS Genealogy Program:
*Naturalization Certificate Files (C-files) from September 27, 1906 to April 1, 1956
*Alien Registration Forms from August 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
USCIS has records dating back to the late 1800′s documenting the arrival and naturalization of millions of immigrants. The agency also has records of those people who were naturalized citizens between 1906 and 1956. The new program replaces a Freedom of Information Act process that was required to get the information. USCIS reported receiving over 40,000 requests for historical records in the last four years.
If the ancestor you are looking for was born less than 100 years ago, you have to send in a copy of the death certificate with your payment before they will search the records.
NOTE: Under the Frequently Asked Questions portion of the site was this nugget of information for genealogy beginners:
Naturalization activity prior to September 27, 1906, was under the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts. Naturalization records may be found in Federal, State, or local court records. Practice and procedure varied greatly over time and geographical location, and as a result the best information on how to find pre-1906 naturalization records is usually available from local sources. For more information on State and local courts, contact the State or county historical or genealogical society in the location where you believe the immigrant naturalized. For Federal court records, contact the National Archives or see their webpage at http://www.archives.gov/genealogy/naturalization/