In early 2023, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) proposed significant price increases to the fees required to access their genealogy records. Such increases would have negatively impacted genealogists’ ability to access the records, also impacting their businesses.
As part of a campaign spearheaded by Records Not Revenue, genealogy professionals and others who would be affected submitted comments in opposition to the proposed fee increases. APG’s Advocacy Committee was quick to organize the association’s response, encouraging association members to submit their feedback to USCIS; you can read APG’s official comments on the proposed fee increases here.
On 31 January 2024, the USCIS published the final rule, one that included a reduction in fees for the genealogy program.
“The fee reduction announcement shows that grassroots advocacy works,” said Renée Carl, APG Advocacy Committee member and Records Not Revenue volunteer. “Hundreds of genealogists, hobbyists, and historians took the time to send comments to USCIS, and they let their members of Congress know about the issue. This accomplishment would not have happened without the groundswell of support.”
According to Records Not Revenue, under the new rule, a Genealogy Program Index Search will drop from $65 to $30, if filed online. Genealogy Program Record Requests filed online will now cost $30 per record. This is a 54% fee cut to access the USCIS historical records. See the image for further details.
The records held by the USCIS Genealogy Program include immigration and naturalization documents for millions of immigrants to the US. The new rule states that Genealogy Program records that have already been digitized (including Alien Registration Forms and Certificate Files created before about 1944) will be provided with the results of an Index Search, with no additional fee. Visa Files, Registry Files, high-numbered C-Files, and A-Files all remain in paper form.