I recently became interested in exploring my genealogy. I was never really interested in it before but as I get older and my relatives get older, I feel it is necessary to find out information before the people with the knowledge are gone.
I have decided to start with what I know best and that is with the immigration documents. Of course, no one in my family has them so I will have to order copies. To my surprise, United States Immigration and Citizenship Services ("USCIS") has a web page devoted to genealogy research called, "Make A Genealogy Request." Also, much to my surprise, the website contains clear and detailed instructions on how to obtain records. On this website you can submit a search for records online or you can file a request through the mail. Perhaps the biggest surprise of all is the speed at which USCIS processes a request. According to their website on genealogy, requests for records are taking only four months. This is an amazing speed for USCIS and I wonder why other applications are not processed as quickly.
It has been the practice of USCIS to keep some of the files and to send the older ones to a National Records Center. In a new agreement announced today between USCIS and the National Archives, records of individuals who were born more than 100 years ago will now be transferred to the National Archives. They will now be considered permanent records and archived. Once a file is transferred, if will be possible to go to the National Archives in Kansas City or San Francisco (if the immigrant arrived at a port in San Francisco) to see the records. A request may be also submitted by mail.
There are some great resources out there. I will keep you posted on how my search goes.