How to Obtain Immigration Records

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The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Genealogy Program provides a service for locating immigration records. It is a fee-based program that offers an index search for locating immigrant file numbers and a record copy request service for obtaining files.

Visit the USCIS Genealogy Program website and click the "Make a Genealogy Request" link. To order online, click "Order Online Now." Click "Make a Genealogy Request by Postal Mail" to download forms for submission by mail.

Enter requested information online or complete the downloaded forms to request an index search. This information will include the person's full name, date of birth, country of birth and residency history in the United States.

Review the provided immigrant information for accuracy and submit the index search request. The index search costs $20 and can be paid by credit card if ordering online, or by money order or cashier's check if ordering by mail. Record the Case ID issued when completing the index search request.

Determine the file number for the immigrant from the results of the index search received from USCIS. This file number and Case ID from the index search are required for making a record request.

Return to the USCIS Genealogy Program website and submit a record request by clicking the "Make a Genealogy Request" link. Choose between submitting the record request online or by mail. Complete the online request form or fill out the downloaded paperwork to submit by mail.

Submit the record request online or by mail along with the required fee. The fee for a record request is $20 for a microfilmed file or $35 for a paper file. The fee can be paid by credit card online or by money order or cashier's check by mail.

Warnings

  • Submitting a record request without a valid file number may affect the outcome of the record request.

Tips

  • When filling out the index search forms, include possible alternate spelling of names, maiden names for female immigrants, and aliases.
  • An approximate birthdate can be used in the index search if the exact date is not known.
  • USCIS recommends an index search request be submitted to obtain the valid file number for the immigrant.

References

About the Author

Stephen Ip has experience writing online professionally and his work can be seen in the Mac, iPhone and Digital Photography Channels. He works as a technical writer in the software industry. Ip received a bachelor's degree in environmental engineering from the University of California, Irvine.