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Avoid Common Errors

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Review the following tips and "lessons learned" from previous researchers before submitting a USCIS Genealogy request and fee:

  1. Submit Only One Form For Each Immigrant.
  2. Use The Correct Paper Form, or Submit The Correct Electronic Form. 
  3. Remember: USCIS DOES NOT Have Records for Every Immigrant. 
  4. Provide As Much Biographical Information As Possible With Index Search Requests.
  5. Be Certain You Have The Right File Number With Record Requests.



Submit Only One Form For Each Immigrant.

Send only one form at a time for each immigrant name.  There are no refunds.  Review the FAQ's page and decide which form to use.

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Use The Correct Paper Form, or Submit The Correct Electronic Form. 

Index Search Request / Form G-1041  Use this form when:

  • you can identify the immigrant but do not know the file number; or
  • when you want to determine how many files USCIS has on the individual immigrant. 

In other words, use Form G-1041 if  your question is: "Do you have any record of this immigrant?" or "Can you tell me my immigrant's file number?"

Record Request / Form G-1041A  Use this form when you can identify the desired file(s) by USCIS file number. 

Use form G-1041A if your request is: "Please send me file #_______,"

If filing by postal mail, always print clearly and always mail your request to the P.O. Box address shown on the form instructions.  Do not mail requests or fee payments to Washington, D.C.

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Remember: USCIS DOES NOT Have Records For Every Immigrant. 

Our records include immigrants:

  • Who naturalized between September 27, 1906 and March 31, 1956;
  • Who arrived as immigrants from July 1, 1924 to May 1, 1951;
  • Who were alive in the United States and registered as aliens (non-citizens) under the 1940 Alien Registration Act between August 1940 and March 31, 1944; and
  • Who arrived before 1924, and who later underwent Registry (legalization) between 1929 and 1944.

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Provide As Much Biographical Information As Possible With Index Search Requests.

Provide all names and all alternate spellings associated with a given immigrant.  If the immigrant was female, be sure to provide both her maiden and married name.  The more biographical information you can provide about your immigrant, the better.  Always error on the side of Too Much Information about your immigrant when submitting an Index Search Request - There is never a "TMI" situation with Index Search Requests. 

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Be Certain You Have The Right File Number With Record Requests.

Be sure to provide a file number, and that the file number you provide is a USCIS file number. For more information about USCIS file numbers, see our Sample File Numbers page for more information.)  Unfortunately, some researchers have mistakenly submitted:

  • Without a file number;
  • A naturalization petition number rather than the certificate number (C-number); and
  • Any number annotated on a passenger list manifest rather than an A-number or C-number. 

Record Requests that provide a "wrong number" unrelated to the immigrant will be answered with "No Record."  Remember that refunds are rare.  The Genealogy Program will only provide a refund when: (1) An Index Search Request provides a file number; (2) The researcher uses that number to submit a Record Request with Case ID (the prior index request); and (3) The Genealogy Program is then unable to locate the file previously identified.

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Last Reviewed/Updated: 09/27/2013