Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Immigration Documents - Please Comment on Proposed Fee Increase!

Do you have ancestors who immigrated in the 20th century?  Well, then you need to pay close attention to a change in fees that's being proposed.  And you need to voice your opposition to this price hike before it happens.

Anyone who naturalized between September 27, 1906 and March 31, 1956 has a C-File, and these can be a goldmine of genealogical information.  And even if your ancestor didn't naturalize, if you had ancestors in the US between 1940-1944, they had to register as aliens.  And if your family came after April 1, 1944 (as did my Holocaust survivor grandparents), your ancestors likely have A-Files.  And these files are about to get out of reach to genealogists and others.  And we need your help to stop this from happening.
One Page of My Great-Grandmother's A-File--These Things are Awesome!

These documents can be incredible.  I got dozens of pages for my grandparents and great grandmother several years back, including photos and detailed documentation.  You can get an idea by looking at what I got for my grandfather (here and here), my grandmother (who had both a C-file and an A-File) and my great-grandmother.

The price for these documents already went up a few years ago.  But there's a new proposal that will take these out of reach of most genealogists.  This proposal asks to raise fees starting at $240 and up to a whopping $625 for a single file.  The fees are even more inexplicable when USCIS refers the majority of Genealogy record requests to their Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) program for processing.  If these requests are FOIA requests, researchers should not be paying any fees other than standard FOIA fees.

So what can you do to help stop this fee gouging from happening?  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, addressing the issues listed here or any issue you think is important. See 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; and
    • 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 effort: and learn more at

Amplify your voice! Please share this with genealogical societies, historical societies, and
every family historian and researcher you know!

(And meanwhile, request your ancestors' A- or C-files in case the price does skyrocket!)

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  1. The fees are just low enough now that it is affordable for me to justify the purchase. If fees are raised, I will have to stop spending money on documents. This is a hobby. My tree is thorough. All I am doing now is buying documents. If the price goes up, I stop and call it good enough. What ridiculously greedy prices.
    Poor form.
    I wonder, what besides greed causes a change of this magnitude?

    1. Please voice your opinion with the 3 steps above. We need to make sure that these points are raised to potentially stop this from happening.

  2. Replies
    1. $65 for each of the record search and the actual file.

  3. I got a treasure trove of information about my husband's Jewish uncles and his father when they applied for British citizenship in the 1930's. Later my husband's father came to the US and applied for US citizenship. I found a genealogist in London who got the papers for me. Rebecca Bromley

  4. Thank you for this. I have posted my opposition on the website and will be sending out an email to everyone I know. Mary

  5. I sent in my $65 to USCIS a few weeks ago for an index search. I'm still waiting for the number(s) I need to order the documents. I really hope that happens before the fee increase takes effect. That's an outrageous increase.

  6. how do you get these documents? I haven't heard of them