Hitting the jackpot on researching WWII-era immigrants takes a few simple steps. It will cost around $20-$55 per immigrant being researched. That’s a price well below the value of the documents filled in the U.S. Alien Case Files.
Here’s answers to general questions on obtaining these files.
What information will I need to obtain the files on my relative?
It is most important to know the person’s full name, birth date or birth year, birth country or city and immigration year. Any extra information such as profession, old addresses, names of relatives living in the same household increases the chances of finding the correct file. Various known spellings of the immigrant’s name also are a great help.
It is highly recommended to first obtain the immigrant’s naturalization record from regional archives of U.S. National Archives. That record will likely include the immigrant’s Alien Number.
What is the importance of the Alien Number?
The number will determine where the Alien Case File can be found. In order to search for an Alien Case File through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Genealogy Program, the number must be below 8 million.
Files with numbers higher than 8 million must be requested with a Freedom of Information Act request, using this form. That form needs to be sent to National Records Center (NRC), FOIA/PA Office, P.O. Box 648010, Lee’s Summit, MO 64064-8010 or email@example.com. Do not mentioned genealogy as the reason for requesting file. Your request will be rejected and you will be referred to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Genealogy Program if you mention genealogy on the form.
Is there an online database for the Alien Case Files?
An index of available files for immigrants born no later than 1910 can be found on Ancestry.com here. If you don’t have an Ancestry.com paid account, visit FamilySearch.org, free and without a registration requirement, to search the index here.
If I find files of relatives in the index, where can I get the files?
If my relatives are not found in the index, where I can send my search request?
Visit this page for the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services Genealogy Program to see whether your relatives’ files would be eligible to be included in the genealogy program. If your relative’s file fall within the criteria, go here to make an index search request for $20. Results of the search will be sent by postal mail in a few weeks and then the located files must be ordered for $20-$35 each.
My relatives were born after 1910 and are not eligible to be included in the genealogy program. How do I get their files?
Fill out this form and send it to National Records Center (NRC), FOIA/PA Office
P.O. Box 648010, Lee’s Summit, MO 64064-8010 or firstname.lastname@example.org . Don’t put down genealogy under Part 3 for 1. Purpose (Optional).
It is highly recommended to have the immigrant’s Alien Number, if possible.
You will receive a letter, stating your request number. That number can be used to check the status update page daily to see the placement of your requests. That website’s address will be listed in the letter.
The form is free to file. It could cost up to $25 for each file, which is sent on a CD in a PDF format. I have not paid once for Alien Case Files through the FOIA/PA office.
How long does it take to get the files?
It should take less than a month to get the files from Kansas City. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services Genealogy Program tries to send files within 90 days. Results of search requests using the Freedom of Information Act form take several weeks.
Do I have to prove ancestry to the immigrant whose file I am requesting?
No. The only requirements for requesting these files are the person whose file is being requested must be deceased and their death must be proven if they were born after 1915. Proof of death can be shown with copies or scans of obituaries, Social Security Death Index listings and death records.
Can living people get their own Alien Case Files?
Yes. They must prove their identity with their birth record, driver’s license or passport.
If you have more questions, post them in the comments section below or e-mail me at bepa.miller at mail.ru.