History and Genealogy
Genealogy Frequently Asked Questions
About the Program
About the Fees
About Further Research
About the Program
The Genealogy Program provides records from the Five Series of Agency Records:
Questions about index search results or record copies that you have already received should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your case identification number in the subject line and in your message.
The USCIS Genealogy Program's mission is to provide a timely response to all requests. We try to respond to all requests within 90 days. However, processing delays sometimes occur. See the Request Status page to learn more about how you can gauge the progress of your request or make a status inquiry.
No - The Genealogy Program cannot provide certified copies. A Genealogy Record Request can provide an information photocopy of a naturalization record only.
If you need only a copy of the naturalization certificate (not certified) to satisfy requirements for your foreign application for dual citizenship, you may submit a Records Request (Form G-1041A) for the naturalization certificate only. Doing so can eliminate any additional processing delay resulting from information about the immigrant's children that may require review under the Privacy Act. To request only the certificate, write "Dual Citz-Natz Certificate Only" on your Records Request (Form G-1041A) form or type this information in the "Optional Information Section" of your online request.
For instructions on how to submit your request, see Make a Genealogy Request.
At minimum, you must provide the:
1. Immigrant’s full name (including variant spellings and/or aliases);
For a fully successful search, you should also provide information on where the immigrant lived in the United States. (For example, "lived in NY in 1920's, then in CT in 1930 to death.") Other information can be helpful, such as names of family members (particularly spouses and children), marriage dates, military service, etc.
All Index Search Requests will receive a report of search results. Search results vary on a case-by-case basis depending on the biography of the immigrant. A typical Index Search response will include a file number, information about the file series, and additional information as follows:
To request a record, you must identify the file by the:
1. Correct file number; and
In return, you will receive the best possible copy of the requested record. File numbers may be learned from an Index Search Request or, in some cases, through independent research. There are four series of file numbers corresponding to the five series of files available through a Record Request:
C-File number for a naturalization or citizenship certificate file, 1906-1956. These numbers are found on original certificates and occasionally on other documents. More about C-File series.
Alien Registration Number (A-number) for a Form AR-2 and/or an A-File numbered below 8 million. These seven digit numbers may be found among an immigrant's personal papers, or after about 1942, on some court naturalization papers. More about A-number series.
Important: Alien Registration Forms AR-2 are only available for A-numbers 1 million to 5,980,116; A6,100,000 to 6,132,126; A7 000,000 to 7,043 999, and A7 500,000 to 7,759,142.
Visa File number for a Visa File. These numbers were assigned internally by the immigration agency and are not available outside an index search request. Note: Visa File numbers do not appear on a ship passenger list. More about Visa File series.
Registry File number (R-number) for a Registry File. Some Registry File numbers are found on land border card manifests now available on National Archives Microfilm. Occasionally a researcher will find an immigrant's Certificate of Registry or Certificate of Lawful Entry among personal papers, and those cards may or may not include the R-number. The majority of Registry File numbers will only be available through an Index Search Request. More about R-number series.
* When in doubt about a file number, please submit an Index Search Request. There is no refund when the file corresponding to the file number provided in a Records Request does not match the immigrant's name provided.
You must provide documentary proof of death with your request if the subject of your request was born less than 100 years before the date of your request. Acceptable documentary proof includes any of the following:
Please submit copies of these records with your request. Do not submit original documents as these documents will not be returned.
For most researchers, the answer to this question will be determined by the records they seek. Submit a Genealogy Request if requesting records of an immigrant who:
Anyone searching for records of a naturalization on or after April 1, 1956, or arrival after May 1, 1951, should submit a FOIA request.
There is an area of overlapping dates (1944-1956) where researchers will not know which program applies. In such doubtful cases, a Genealogy Index Search Request (Form G-1041) that identifies records outside the scope of the Genealogy Program will provide search results identifying the records and providing instructions for requesting them under FOIA. Similarly, if a FOIA request identifies records covered by the Genealogy Program, the FOIA Program will provide instructions for requesting those records using the Genealogy Record Request Form (Form G-1041A).
Note: FOIA requests of an obviously genealogical nature (i.e., born more than 100 years ago, naturalized prior to 1956, etc.) will be returned to the requester with instructions for re-submitting the request through the Genealogy Program.
Send updates or corrections to our Updates and Corrections Mailbox. Include your Case ID number in the subject line and “Additional Information” in the body of the email.
About the Fees
Online Requests - Pay fees for online requests by credit card using the Treasury Department's Pay.Gov service. One can submit a request online and choose to pay the fee by mail (see below), but the request will not be processed until the fee is received.
Mailed Requests - Fees for mail requests or online requests (with payment by mail) must be paid with money order or cashier's check only (no personal checks will be accepted). The fee must be submitted and mailed with request form G-1041 or G-1041A. Requests mailed without payment will be held while the requester is contacted to submit the fee. If payment is not received within 30 days of submitting the request, the request will be canceled.
There are only two instances where any fees will be refunded by the Genealogy Program. They are:
1. When an Index Search Request provides a file number, the researcher uses that number to submit a Record Request with case ID (the prior index request), and the Genealogy Program is then unable to locate the file previously identified. The Genealogy Program will complete a Form G-266, Request for Refund of Fee, and notify the researcher accordingly.
2. When a G-1041 or G-1041A is submitted by mail and includes an overpayment of fee. For example, if someone submitted form G-1041 ($20) but attached a fee of $35. The Genealogy Program will process the request and complete Form G-266, Request for Refund of Fee, to cover the $15 overpayment). Fees must be paid in the exact amount only.
In those rare instances when the USCIS Genealogy Program determines that a refund is due, the U.S. Treasury Department will issue a check which they will forward to you by U.S. postal mail within 30 days.
All fees cover the costs incurred in providing a service and providing textual files involves additional costs. USCIS must pay fees to a Federal Records Center to retrieve and return a textual file from storage. The program also incurs additional expense on shipping, handling, and duplication of textual files. Finally, most textual files contain a larger number of pages to be duplicated.
About Further Research
Naturalization records may be found in Federal, State, or local/municipal court records. The courts exercised exclusive jurisdiction over naturalization activity prior to September 27, 1906. Only the naturalization court itself kept records of naturalizations before that date. Naturalization practice and procedure also varied greatly over time and geographical location. As a result, local sources usually provide the best information on how to find pre-1906 naturalization records. 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.
For more information on Arrival and Nationality Records dated prior to September 27, 1906, please visit our Research Guidance page.
Any USCIS records not included within the scope of the Genealogy Program, and not covered by any other rule or request form, should be requested under the Freedom of Information Act or Privacy Act (FOIA/PA).
To request certification of nonexistence of a specific record, write directly to the USCIS Records Services Branch at:
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
It is important that all request letters contain information to specifically identify the immigrant. Requests must contain the:
• Immigrant’s name (including all variants and aliases);
As much information as possible about when and where the immigrant arrived in or lived in the United States and the names of immediate immigrant relatives can also be helpful. In all cases the immigrant must be deceased. If the immigrant’s birth date is less than 100 years before the request date, requests for certification of non-existence must include a copy of the immigrant’s death certificate.
To obtain copies of your own records or those of a living person with their consent, submit a request to the USCIS Freedom of Information Act or Privacy Act (FOIA/PA). More information about submitting a FOIA Request, see the USCIS FOIA Request Guide.
Individuals admitted to the United States as contracted agricultural laborers between 1942 and 1951, and between 1951 and 1965, were admitted temporarily as nonimmigrants. USCIS did not retain records of temporary admissions. Lawfully admitted Braceros who fulfilled their contracts and returned to Mexico may not appear in any USCIS record.
Braceros who later immigrated to or adjusted to another status in the United States will in most cases have a USCIS file. However, that file may or may not contain any documentation of the subjects’ former status as a Bracero.
If the Bracero is living . . .
USCIS FOIA/PA Request
If the Bracero is deceased . . .
USCIS Genealogy Index Search Request
Last Reviewed/Updated: 09/27/2013