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:
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