USCIS Fee Hike Proposal
According to Records, Not Revenue, “an ad hoc group of genealogists, historians and records access activists,” U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) recently proposed a 492% increase in fees for historical records held by the USCIS Genealogy Program. Until December 16th only **UPDATE; extended to February 10th**, the Federal Rulemaking Portal is accepting comments from the public in support of or in opposition to the proposal.
Why does this matter?
The USCIS is the successor agency to Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS). Combined, the agencies have dealt with immigration and naturalization for most of the 20th century. In addition to current immigration, USCIS manages historical records of interest to countless genealogists and other researchers. Current fees for copies of those records are $65 for index search and copy of a digitized record, plus $65 if the record is available in paper only. The proposal increases the search fee to $240 for index search and copy of a digitized record, plus $385 if the record is available in paper only—as much as $625 for a single record.
There are five separate records sets under the USCIS Genealogy Program’s purview:Only NGS members have access to full articles of NGS Monthly. Please log in or click here to learn more about joining the National Genealogical Society.
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I will certainly follow up on this issue. The proposed fee increase will, essentially, make these records unavailable. It is not likely to actually increase revenue at all because most genealogists will not be able to afford these records and will thus not pay the increased fees. -Val D Greenwood
At these rates, I would have NOT been able to uncover previously unknown information for my wife about her family from Poland. The solution to this is to put the records online NOT make it impossible for all but the rich to research their genealogy
How do we go about giving our opinion?
Hi, Virginia. See the section of the article with the heading “What can you do?”
Please note the comment period has now been extended to December 30th! See https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/12/09/2019-26521/us-citizenship-and-immigration-services-fee-schedule-and-changes-to-certain-other-immigration.
I posted today and also sent my samr comments to my elected officals on the Federal level.
This increase is price is unconscionable. I would not have been able to afford the records I have already ordered, and I certainly will not be able to order any additional records as I continue my research. Genealogy has become a passion for many, and this increase in costs will do nothing but put a stop to some of us who want to know more.
Show us the justification for 1. An increase, and 2. how this amount was arrived at. I have seen no accounting of funds. who has oversight responsibility for this office? Give us the FACTS.
The best source for this information is Records Not Revenue (https://www.recordsnotrevenue.com).
Aaron, I just went to the USCIS.gov site and looked over their Budget and Fees listings. The first fees listed are related to genealogical Research and file searches, and all the fees are increasing from $20.00 to $65.00. This is a 69% increase, not a 492% increase.
Lisa Refvem Davis
Hi, Lisa. I know this is a little late, but the fees you’re looking at are the current fees that were recently raised from $20. The proposal under consideration, however, does indeed recommend a 492% increase. See that portion of the proposal here: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/11/14/2019-24366/us-citizenship-and-immigration-services-fee-schedule-and-changes-to-certain-other-immigration#p-587 .