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30 January 2020

Update: USCIS comment period extended to February 10

You may have heard that U.S. Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) is proposing to exponentially increase fees for retrieval of their genealogy records. In some cases this would mean raising costs as much as 500 percent. We wrote about this previously in our blog. USCIS is the repository for most immigration and naturalization records from the late 19th to the mid-20th century. The proposal has drawn protests from historians and genealogists and even from some Congressional members, most notably Senator Mitt Romney

Alien Registration File for Raymond Hiroshi Hirai, Alien Registration #A1740872,
Records of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Photo courtesy of Rina Hirai.

The deadline to submit public comments on the issue was originally December 2019. Now USCIS has extended the deadline for public comments to February 10, 2020. The folks at Records, Not Revenue recently announced the extension of the deadline and offered the following advice:

"We have four steps for you to take right now to help us oppose the fee hike:
1) If you haven't yet submitted a comment, please do so. All the information you need to know is at http://recordsnotrevenue.com/. Submit your comments at: https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=USCIS-2019-0010-10938

2) Once you have submitted a comment, or if you have already done so in the past, please make sure you write your Senators and Representative! We have received interest from several Congressional offices, and hope this two-week extension can gain us some further interest.

3) If you have submitted a comment AND written your Senators and Representative, you are welcome to submit supplementary comments! There is no need to submit repeat or duplicative comments. If your comment has not yet posted to the online portal, but you received email confirmation and/or a receipt number from your previous comment, there is no need to submit the same comment again. However, you are welcome to add additional thoughts to your previous comments; just be sure to include reference to your previous comment in your supplementary comment.

4) Share share share! Make sure your spouse and your siblings and your parents, cousins, neighbors all submit a comment, too. About 20% of the current posted comments are about the Genealogy Program - and that takes up just 2 pages of the 92-page proposed rule. Every single comment matters. Download the one-pager from our website for an easily shareable document.

As always, let us know if you have questions, if you hear anything from your elected officials, or if we can help in any way."
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CGS has made a formal statement of opposition to the proposed fee increase. Board members Linda Okazaki and Grant Din are our representatives with the committee. If you haven't yet weighed in on the issue, this is your chance!

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