U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) has recently proposed a 492% increase in fees required to access historical records held by the USCIS Genealogy Program. Many of these records should already be publicly accessible.
- These include the A-files for records numbered under 8 million.
- Current fee $65 for a search, which has no guarantee of results
- Proposed fee $240! + $385 for the paper file.
1912 Photo of Gong Kay from A-File at National Archives at San Francisco
Summary of the Issues:
- Access: Fees – starting at $240 and up to $625 for a single file
- Transparency: USCIS proposes a raise in fees with virtually no explanation.
- Efficiency: These files should already be at the National Archives (NARA). Some already exist at NARA but are withheld from the public due to restrictions placed by USCIS.
- Visa Files and Registry Files, both subject to the proposed $625 total fee, became eligible for transfer to NARA in April 2019. These records should already be available to the public at NARA.
- Alien Registration Forms, subject to the proposed $240 fee, exist on microfilm at NARA but remain unavailable because of a USCIS restriction. A-Files of immigrants born more than 100 years ago should be at NARA, as per its 2009 schedule.
Make your voice heard in 3 easy steps:
Step 1: Review the proposed rule here, and jump to the Genealogy Program section here.
Step 2: Write your comments on the issues. See https://www.recordsnotrevenue.com/#conversationstarters for thoughts on how to begin.
Step 3: Send your comments BEFORE 16 December 2019 to
- Federal Rulemaking Portal and refer to DHS Docket No. USCIS-2019-0010 and follow
instructions for submitting comments;
• Send a copy of your comments to your US Senators and Representative, and refer to DHS Docket No. USCIS-2019-0010. Tell them you care about preserving access to federal records!
Sign up to stay informed on this important effort: and learn more at https://www.recordsnotrevenue.com/
Update from the Save Our National Archives group, led by Jeanie Low and Jennie Lew: USCIS has finally released the A-files for people born between 1911 and 1915 to the National Archives at San Bruno. NARA already has all the A-files for people who passed through San Francisco and were born from 1910 and earlier available, and they are indexed at NARA’s website.
Write your comments to USCIS then request your ancestors’ A- or C-files in case the price does skyrocket!