Find Naturalization Records in U.S.
Obtain Naturalization Records from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration
Naturalization is the means by which a citizen or alien of one country
becomes the citizen of another—in this case, a United States citizen. Of
course, genealogists are not interested in how to go about the difficult
business of becoming citizens; they are attempting to track down any
available historical information about their ancestors. Naturalization
records provide a wealth of relevant information for genealogy research.
Learn how to obtain these valuable informational records from U.S.
Citizenship and Immigration Services via your own computer.
Visit uscis.gov and click on “About Us and FOIA.” The subsequent menu
will show a listing for “History, Genealogy and Education.” Click this
category and scroll down to the link for “Naturalization Records.” From
this point you will become aware that this agency also contains other
records that may be relevant to your particular search that include
records pertaining to resumed or lost citizenship. In this case,
however, naturalization records are the primary focus.
INS naturalization certificate files, referred to as C-Files are
generally comprised of three documents: Declaration of Intention,
Petition for Naturalization and Certificate of Naturalization.
Researchers have the ability to request these files from this agency if
they fall between the 1906-1956 timeframe. These C-Files have been
microfilmed and may be requested from INS. This agency did not keep
naturalization records prior to September of 1906 so those records must
be obtained from the National Archives.
FOIA or Freedom of Information Act allows anyone to request access to
immigration records (excepting classified records), but it must be done
precisely and in writing to this agency. You will need to mail your
written request (a form is also available for this purpose through a
link on the site) to:
Freedom of Information Act/Privacy Act Program
111 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., 2nd Floor
Washington, D.C. 20529
Requests for Alien files should be mailed to:
National Records Center
P.O. Box 648010
Lee’s Summit, MO 64064-8010
For procurement information, mail your request to:
70 Kimball Ave.
South Burlington, VT 05403-6813
Should you wish to contact someone in the office for other information
or with questions, call 202-272-8269.
The agency states that most of the request they receive do not require
fees, but any request may be charged up to $25 in fees, so it is best to
plan for this up front. Should your request prove extensive, added fees
may pertain, but the agency will contact you before going further with
When you write to contact USCIS, be sure to include a daytime phone
number so they may contact you. The more information you can provide
about the person the easier they may call up the records for you.
Verification of identity or proof of death for the person you are
researching is also essential information for a request. Form G-639 may
be helpful for your written submission and is available through a link
in the site.
As for the information contained in the C-Files—they are a virtual
treasure for any genealogy enthusiast. The Declaration of Intention
contains information about an individual’s occupation, name, personal
description (color, height, complexion, weight, hair color, eye color,
distinctive marks), place of birth, birth date, port of arrival,
etc…This file alone contains extremely important information for anyone
tracing their ancestry.
The Petition for Naturalization contains the name, address, occupation,
date of birth, place of birth, date and port of departure, name of
transport, date of arrival, port of arrival, signatures of witnesses as
well as where and when the petition was filed. After 1915, this record
also included name, date & place of birth, and residence of wife and
minor children. Some of this information overlaps with that contained on
the Declaration of Intent, but it allows a researcher to verify
information with a second document as well as to track an
individual—whether they are employed in the same manner for instance.
The Certificate of Naturalization was made in duplicate form. The new
citizen kept the original copy and a copy was kept at USCIS. After 1929,
a photograph was included with this record. This certificate includes
date of birth, personal description, marital status, country of former
nationality, signature, and location of ceremony where the individual
Not surprisingly, each informational item contained in the
naturalization records can prove immensely helpful in organizing
ancestry information. This agency handles requests for these records on
a daily basis and handles each request in a timely manner. However,
because of the volume of request made to this agency, plan on waiting
about twenty days for basic requests. Complicated requests may require
additional time to process.
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