Service citizenship and US immigration services (USCIS) intends to increase the fee for getting immigration files up to 500% — this means that some people will have to pay more than $ 600 for the documents. This step will affect the families of the millions of people who immigrated to the United States in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, writes NPR.
30 December — deadline for comment in the Service of citizenship and immigration of the United States in connection with the proposed increase in fees for access to records, which include documents Dating back to over 100 years of history and earlier, and they can be useful for genealogists.
“This is a story of immigration,” says Renee Carl, genealogist in Washington, D.C., working with clients who use these records.
“If man came from the camp for displaced persons in Europe, he would fill all of these documents, while still in Europe, says Carl. — Then you receive information about the arrival of the document. You get the picture, if there is a visa application file. You almost always get a photo”.
Carl said that the Agency stored millions of records. These include the registration files of foreigners, the documents for certificates of naturalization and visas, if a person has applied for a visa to enter the United States.
“There may exist something called a registry file if during the naturalization process, the government will not be able to find someone on the ship’s manifest, so they were trying to document how he entered the country,” says Carl.
For those trying to trace their family history, these files can contain important information, including photos. Carl said genealogical research goes beyond just the desire to learn the names of the relatives; people want to understand what a life their ancestors lived.
“It happens that you have never seen pictures of his great-grandfather or grandfather, except in old age, not in youth, says Karl. -This gives you the opportunity to understand what their lives were like when you can no longer ask them questions.”
Carl said that even if the file does not have photos, they almost always contain a signature, “which allows you to keep the human touch in”.
Carl believes that the documents USCIS can be especially important for the population of the United States, which is subject to discriminatory immigration laws. These groups include residents of Japanese descent who were denied citizenship until after the Second world war, and people of Chinese origin, who in the 1870s and 1950-ies are subjected to restrictions on immigration and citizenship.
Karl and her colleagues created a website with additional information about files that is available to USCIS, proposed fees, and how to comment on the innovation.
She says she first learned about the value of immigration documents when doing research of his family.
“My grandfather came to this country in childhood and became a citizen, she said. But in the 1960s my grandfather did not know where his certificate of naturalization. He wanted to get a copy, on which was written his name. And he also had to prove how old he is until retirement, so he could start getting their payments.”
He came from Eastern Europe as a child, grandfather had birth certificates, so to prove his age, Carl found in the documents a letter from the school Board of St. Louis that he went to the first class in 8 years.
“It gave me the name of the school where he studied. This is minor, but it gave me the idea of man in childhood, she says. — You see, they’ve lived a full life. These records is one way to look at another part of the life of our ancestors-the immigrants.”
According to Karl, if the cost will increase, to accommodate a request for search of records from USCIS will take at least $ 240. The fee covers some of the records, she says, “But if there is a paper folder, they will add another $ 385 to the fee. So a total of $ 625 in one folder on one person.”
Currently, the cost of the search is about $ 65, and obtaining the records — even $ 65.
“This is a huge difference, says Carl. — It is expensive for documents that should be in the National archives. Many of these documents should be free for the people.”
In a press release, USCIS stated that fees needed to cover the costs of processing these applications. But Carl says that the fees are excessive.
“Our ancestors-immigrants pay fees when filled in the forms. If these records were transferred to the national archives, they would be available for research. These records will then be stored in a place that is constantly used to process files, not the Agency that deals with immigration and naturalization,” she says.