U.S. Genealogy Enthusiasts – Before the Decade Ends Next Week…

I know you’re busy with preparing for the holidays, visiting family and friends, cooking up grandma’s passed down recipes, spitting into those DNA test tubes and standing in lines (or trying to figure out where your package got delivered because it wasn’t at your door as expected).  You’ve got to put this on your TO – DO before December 30th list, though, because it effects everyone interested in family history in the U.S. 

I’ve received several emails from various organizations regarding the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Service’s 500% proposed fee increase.  That is outrageous on so many levels!  My first complaint is that they just raised the fee 300% less than 3 years ago.  The second complaint is that it TAKES FOREVER to get the documents and sometimes, you don’t get them at all and you don’t get your money back. 

I don’t know about you, but I think paying $685.00, waiting up to a year and then getting an email with no individual to respond to stating the USCIS couldn’t find the information you sought is ridiculous.

Personally, I don’t need to request any documents as I was fortunate to obtain my maternal grandparent’s citizenship paperwork before the fees were increased.  Was there startling revelations I uncovered from obtaining the documents?  Well, it was for me but probably most people wouldn’t find it extraordinary.  I got two awesome photos of my grandparents taken during the Depression when they had cut back so much to keep the house that they had NO spare change to have family photos taken.  I have them from their marriage in the Teens, their growing family in the 1920’s and the war years of the 40’s and their retirement in the 50’s but zilch in the 30’s.  

I also discovered that their long time next door neighbor, Mr. Bauer, served as a character witness.  To me, he was a nice widower who let me pet his dog and gave me $1.00 instead of candy on Halloween.  It also explained why another family would sometimes visit and grandma would break out the good china and silverware – they had once lived behind my family and had also served as a character witness.  Mills is so right – Family/Friends, Associates and Neighbors hold the clue and show the interconnectedness of us all.  

So, personally, the proposed increased doesn’t effect me but it certainly does professionally and as a citizen, for those who want to get a better insight into the immigrant experience.  

Yeah, I know, you’re going to say they already made up their mind and they aren’t going to care that you have a differing opinion.  My response is your opinion matters and I will hold it against my representatives if they fail to respond which they haven’t yet and I filled out my paperwork last week.  

This is all you have to do:

1.  If you want to read more about the proposal go to this website https://www.recordsnotrevenue.com/

2.  If you are ready to make your views known – skip step 1 and go directly to this website – 


3.  Don’t let all that political jargon exasperate you!  Just click “Comment” on the right side of the screen at the top

4.  You don’t have to write a dissertation – just a few words will do.

5.  I also emailed my Senators and Representative.  If you don’t know how to email yours – click here to identify your Senators and Representative.  To save time, you can do a Ctr C to copy what you write to the USCIS and enter the same by doing a Ctr P for your Senators and Representative.  

Last week, I wrote about another assault on genealogy.  Thank you for all your comments.  Clearly, this is a time for all of us to make noise and express our opinion.  I’m sure, like me, you want your descendants to one day discover you took a stand for the right reasons during these difficult times.  

I promise it will take you less than 10 minutes to send the emails to those who will make the final decision.  Don’t delay – do this TODAY!

Obtaining US Ancestors Immigration Documentation – What You Need to Know

In May, I requested an index search request for $20.00 from the USCIS website.  I’ve always meant to do so but never got around to it.  I had read a blog on Judy Russell’s Legal Genealogist site that mentioned the price may be going up dramatically so I decided the time was now and quickly followed through with the request.

You must complete and index search request ($20.00) if you don’t know the Case ID number.  A Case ID number is needed to request Alien Registration Forms (AR-2) and Naturalization Certificates (C-File) which are an additional $20.00-35.00. I was requesting two index searches, one for each of my maternal grandparents.

In August, I received a letter in the US mail that provided me with a Case ID number for my grandmother.  The letter referred me to the Department of Homeland Security website so that I could obtain the AR-2 and C-File.  I tried to follow the directions but I was unable to gain access.  Frustrated, I decided to try from different computers as I wasn’t sure if cookie settings were the problem.  After making a number of attempts from my home’s laptop, desktop, Kindle, phone and my work computer I came to the conclusion it wasn’t me.

The only way to contact the agency is via email.  I was livid when I received a response stating they would respond by December.  Seriously?!

A survey popped up and I took the time to complete it;  I mentioned the poor customer service access, the long delay between the letter’s date (July 8) and receiving it (date stamped August 18), lack of a functional website and that my initial request was for two searches and I only had one returned. I also sent an email to the agency on August 22 because their phones don’t work.  Here’s the response:

“It is our goal to complete all requests within 90 days of receipt. 

Nevertheless, due to an increased volume of requests we are now answering:

  • Index Search Requests (Form G-1041) received in MARCH 2016.
  • Record Requests (Form G-1041A) received in FEBRUARY 2016. Please note that pending record requests submitted prior that date are waiting for files or privacy screenings.”

Clearly the response isn’t even accurate as I didn’t even request the documents until May and had half of my request returned in August.

The following day I received this email response:

“Your payment has been submitted to Pay.gov and the details are below. If you have any questions or you wish to cancel this payment, please contact the USCIS Genealogy Program at (866) 259-2349.”

I called the number but never could reach anyone.

I was pleasantly surprised to receive an email from James Igoe on October 3rd that attached my grandmother’s C-File.  I responded with a thank you and then asked for an update on where my grandfather’s file was.  Here’s the response I received on October 3rd:

“It is our goal to complete all requests within 90 days of receipt. 

Nevertheless, due to an increased volume of requests we are now answering:

  • Index Search Requests (Form G-1041) received in MARCH 2016.
  • Record Requests (Form G-1041A) received in FEBRUARY 2016. Please note that pending record requests submitted prior that date are waiting for files or privacy screenings.”

Sound familiar?!  Between August 22nd and October 3rd the agency had made NO progress with their backlog.

My advice, if you need to request records, is to do so with out delay cause it’s going to be a long, long time before you receive them.