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From: "Joy Rich" <>
Subject: Re: [APG] US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
Date: Thu, 29 May 2008 22:16:11 -0400
References: <mailman.13516.1212106721.16752.apg@rootsweb.com>

Marie, thank you very much for providing us with this information.


Joy Rich
Brooklyn, NY
Member, Association of Professional Genealogists http://www.apgen.org


Message: 9
Date: Thu, 29 May 2008 17:42:40 EDT
Subject: [APG] US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
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I attended the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) program on
Thursday, 22 May, along with Patricia Shawker and Jane Pearson. USCIS announced
their new Genealogy program which will begin on 13 August 2008. This new
program will eliminate the need for a FOIA and requests will go straight to
their new Genealogy section.

The criteria for the Genealogy section is that the immigrant person had to
have been born 100 years ago or proof of death must be furnished. It was
suggested that the first thing that should be done is read the final rule
published in the Federal Register at

>From the USCIS web site:
"The new Genealogy Program would search indices and locate and retrieve
responsive records and files. Once a requester has demonstrated that the subject
of the record is deceased by providing a death certificate, obituary, or
other form as proof of death, routine record copies and information would be
reviewed and mailed directly to the requester.

The new Genealogy Program would serve the public demand in a more
expeditious fashion. The program would put requesters and the genealogy staff in direct
communication thus providing a dedicated queue and point of contact for
genealogists and other researchers seeking access only to those records described
as historical records as defined under 8 CFR 103.39. "
* * * * * * * * * * **
The service fees announced to us and published in the Final Rule are $20.00
for an index search. If no record was found then there would be suggestions
for additional research. If a record/records are found USCIS will send back
full record citations.

Index searches will be based on the info provided by the requester. The
forms are still being revised and the researcher may be contacted to get more
info if someone can't be found who should be in their records--then they will
try again. If they are "unable to locate" anyone matching the info provided in
their index they will let you know.

If one or more records is identified for the immigrant, you will receive (in
email or snail mail), a detailed report of the results. The report will
identify the record by FILE NUMBER and include descriptive information about that
file series, as well as instructions on how to request any or all of the
files identified in the results.

At this point you can decide if you want to submit another request using the
index search information. This is a separate transaction but they will be
able to link this to the first request. If you are requesting files based on
the prior index search you will already know the format of the file from the
search results and will know how much to pay when they initiate their file

If the record is on microfilm there would be an additional charge of $20.00
per record. If still in original format then the additional charge would be
$35.00 per record.

If you already know the file number you can start with a record request
(skipping the search) and then start by paying for the record, and it wouldn't be
in addition to anything.

My impression is that it would be best to start out ordering the index
search. Then you would receive a listing of all available records. And you would
have the correct numbers to use to request the files. It is often difficult to
determine which number is the correct one.

The estimate of turnaround time for an index search is about 4-6 weeks, 6-8
weeks is estimated for the files (less for microfilmed, longer for hard copy).
But this will depend on the number of requests being received. These
requests would be handled by experienced staff who are familiar with the indexes.

A large portion of the program was INEXPLICABLY devoted to the USCIS
digitizing program which is geared to law enforcement rather than genealogists. NARA
and USCIS with determine the retention schedule of the documents once they
have been digitized. These records are not currently open to researchers but
it would be nice to know that they would be available if my grandchildren were


Marie Varrelman Melchiori, CG, CGL
Melchiori Research Services, L.L.C.
CG, Certified Genealogist and CGL, Certified Genealogical Lecturer are
service marks of the Board for Certification of Genealogists, used under license
by Board-certified associates after periodic competency evaluations.

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