Friday, August 3, 2012

Get Familiar with USCIS: home of US Naturalization Records after 1906



Usually when I want to request a naturalization record, I think of the
 National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) or the state court if that is where the naturalization occurred. But as I mentioned in my last post, (July 23, 2012) since 1906 the federal government has had jurisdiction over naturalization. Even with this move to centralize the process under the federal umbrella, state and US courts

were both able to process naturalizations. Familysearch.org has a very informative wiki on this subject.

I had located my maternal grandfather’s Declaration of Intention on the Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court NaturalizationDeclaration of Intention database:
Before I knew about Homeland Security’s naturalization files, I contacted the Illinois Regional Archives Depository (IRAD) atNortheastern University in Chicago to request a copy of Frank’s naturalization card. I talked about IRAD in my post of July 4, 2012. You can call or write to make your request. Be sure to include any pertinent information that you already have about the target person, including birth date. In just a few days, I received Frank Holub’s naturalization certificate issued by the US District Court in Chicago in 1935:



But I wondered if a file existed for Frank Holub that might have more information than just the certificate. Could there be first papers (Declaration of Intention) or final papers? This event occurred after 1906, so I knew that the Homeland Security naturalization branch, the UnitedStates Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), might have Frank’s naturalization file.


But I needed to have a C-number to request the file, as I had learned from the USCIS Historical Reference Library, when I had made a previous request (see my post of July 23,2012.) I saw the H-410 number stamped on the upper left corner of the card. But where was the C-xxx? I decided to send another e-mail message to the USCIS Historical Reference Library, asking for help once more. And as you will see in the response below, the library came through again.

Before the written message, the library attached Frank Holub’s naturalization certificate with the three numbers circled and color-coded:







“The C-number for this file is “C-3903371.”  This is the number to submit to the USCIS Genealogy Program in your “Record Copy Request” when requesting Frank Holub’s Certificate File (“C-File”).

Naturalization records have a variety of associated numbers and one must be careful to use the correct number in a given context:

1.       The Certificate number (circled in red and identified as “cn” or certificate of naturalization) is the USCIS Certificate File (C-File) number used to request the file from the USCIS Genealogy Program.  (Put a “C-“ in front of the number on the card  C-3903371).

2.       The Petition number (circled in blue) is the Petition for Naturalization number and refers to the COURT document (state, local, or federal court).

3.       The “H-410” number (circled in green below) is the Soundex code for the last name and so is associated with the index itself, not any of the records.”


After I read the message, the numbering system on the naturalization looked easy. But before the library’s explanation, it had not been simple to decipher.

To recap, check your naturalization documents. If you have ancestors who were naturalized after 1906, you may wish to request copies of their files from USCIS, no matter if they were naturalized in state or federal courts. Also, a very helpful part of USCIS is the Historical Reference Library.


Categories: US citizenship, US Agencies


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