How to learn if an immigrant received US citizenship? #usa


I am trying to discover whether a great-uncle of mine, who immigrated to the U.S. in 1958, ever received US citizenship.

Any leads to how to research this would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks.

Wishing everyone a happy and HEALTHY Passover!

Fredel Fruhman,  Brooklyn, New York, USA


Someone who immigrated to the US in 1958 (assuming they were admitted on an immigrant visa) would be eligible to naturalize 5 years later (sooner if they were married to a US citizen).  As long as they applied (filed their Petition for Naturalization) prior to 1990/1992 that petition would be filed in a court with jurisdiction over their residence.*  This research for this time period is fairly straightforward.

First, you can start looking for the court record.  By 1960 most naturalizations took place in Federal courts. Many Federal court records are at least indexed online (, FamilySearch, etc.), though not all of them for the late 20th century.  If not online, the records should be at the National Archives.  If the immigrant lived in a rural area they still might have naturalized in a state or local court.  In that case one should look to that locality for naturalization research guidance.

Second, there is always the backup of a USCIS A-file.  Any immigrant who arrived 1958 has an A-file which holds all their records, including the immigration visa records and copies of all the court naturalization records.  
  • If your immigrant was born more than 100 years ago, be sure to first search the A-files in the National Archives (NARA) catalog to see if that A-file has transferred to NARA.  While not likely to have transferred, one should always check NARA first 
  • If not found among the NARA holdings, the A-file must be requested from USCIS.  
    • If the immigrant naturalized AFTER 1975 the USCIS can likely locate the file easily, if they naturalized before that date it can be harder/take longer.  
  • Most genealogists wind up having to pay the USCIS fees, but because your immigrant arrived in 1958 their A-number should be above 8 million, so should qualify for request under the Freedom of Information (FOIA) program (free!).  I believe you can submit a USCIS FOIA request online now, see
Good luck!

Marian Smith

*If they were a member of the US military when they naturalized their records might be in a court with no relation to their residence.  Also, if anyone applied for naturalization after 1990/92 all records are in the USCIS A-file.  

Stephanie LaRose Lewison

Does one need to be a citizen in order to have a social security number?

Stephanie Lewison, Poughkeepsie, NY


Thank you. 

To the best of my knowledge, one does not need to be a citizen to get a social security number.
Fredel Fruhman
Brooklyn, New York, USA

Adelle Gloger

To answer the question—
    Check with the county board of elections wherever this person lived to see if he registered to vote. In order to register to vote proof of citizenship— either  birth certificates or naturalization papers — must be presented. The voter registration will give place of naturalization. This information should be public information.
Adelle Weintraub Gloger, Cleveland, Ohio

Stephen Weinstein


No, citizenship is not needed to get a social security number.  Anyone eligible to work in the U.S., including legal permanent residents ("green card" holders) and those who are here on visas would qualify for a social security number.  Some others do as well; I'm not sure of the criteria, but I remember that they get social security cards that say "not valid for employment" or something like that.

Elana Broch

Are you asking for historical/genealogical reasons?

Currently:Noncitizens living in the United States may be eligible for Social Security if they: are permanent legal residents; have visas that allow them to work in the United States; or were allowed in the country under the Family Unity or Immediate Relative provisions of U.S. immigration law.Oct 10, 2018


The date your mishbocha became naturalized can be significant. My grandparents immigrated in 1913 but in researching their history I discovered there did not become US citizens until 1942 — the year textbooks show the Einsatzgruppen burned their home village to the ground and murdered every one in it, 

Sarah L Meyer

I believe that permanent residents and those with a green card have social security numbers.  There are legal immigrants who are not citizens - they have TINs but are NOT eligible to vote.

Sarah L Meyer
Georgetown TX
BIRGARDOVSKY, EDELBERG, HITE (CHAIT), PERCHIK Russia (southern Ukraine) and some Latvia or Lithuania

Lee Jaffe

I'm assuming from your note that the person in your case was an adult at the time he immigrated, since you don't mention parents or other family. I think the case gets more complicated if someone immigrated as minor child, or a wife.  It's usually the father as the titular head of household who would apply for naturalization on behalf of himself and his spouse and all the children who were minors on arrival. 

I have the naturalization petitions for two of my great grandfathers. The first was filed in a Memphis criminal court in 1892 and does not include names or details about any of his dependents (or much able himself for that matter). Yet his son,  my grandfather, was able to use it to prove his naturalization when he applied for a passport in the 1950s. 

In the second case, 20 years later, my maternal great grandfather, filing in federal court, listed each dependent on his application, plus arrival information. It seems there is a clearer paper trail for naturalization as time went on and the process got more standardized nationwide. However, I want to note that my great grandmother still  didn't get her own passport, but was included on her husband's.

Lee Jaffe
Joroff/Koshkin -- Shchors/Snovsk


Thanks to all!
Fredel Fruhman
Brooklyn, New York, USA