For 'Black Friday' USCIS wants to charge you $625 for a single paper file


🤬 NO, A 492% PRICE HIKE! 🤬

Hello again from Reclaim The Records! We're interrupting your probable post-Thanksgiving stupor to bring you some important and time-sensitive records access news.

Two weeks ago, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) proposed an unprecedented *492% increase* in fees for researchers who want copies of historical records held by their Genealogy Program.

Yes, that did say 492%. No, it's not a typo.

This special USCIS Genealogy Program was set up about a decade ago as a way for researchers to bypass the usual tedious USCIS Freedom of Information (FOIA) requests system, which can take six months or more to respond. In return for the expedited handling for these historical files, the agency charged a bit more than the usual FOIA fees, but only enough to recover the costs of running the program.

But under this brand new proposed rule change, the price of a copy of a single paper file could rise in 2020 from $65 to a whopping $625!

Obviously, we want to stop this thing. So, please read our latest newsletter, where we tell you all about it!

Here's the link:
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We at Reclaim The Records are pleased to announce that we have teamed up as part of an ad hoc non-partisan group of fellow genealogists, historians, and records access advocates, to try to stop these fee hikes. And we're starting with a website to explain what these records are, why they're important, what the USCIS Genealogy Program is, and why this price hike is totally ridiculous and unjustified.

Please check out 'Records, Not Revenue' -- that's -- where you can learn about:

- The Issues: Access, Transparency, and Efficiency
Read all about the main problems with this outrageous proposal

- Who might show up in these records?
...and why you should care about preserving public access to American history

- Some conversation starters
You might want to bring these questions up in your comments

- Check out some example files!
Read and download real USCIS files that would be affected by this proposed fee hike

Note: of special interest to Jewish genealogists, the "example files" on the website were donated by various genealogists, including some real USCIS files from a German-Jewish refugee (who immigrated to the US via Cuba) in 1944, and a Czech-Jewish Holocaust survivor in 1946.

That latter file, for Bertha Fried, included this sobering answer in her paperwork:


Finally, please make sure you submit your comments to USCIS about this proposed fee hike by ***December 16, 2019***. That's not too far away!

If you're as mad about this totally needless and unjustifiable and sudden and awful fee hike on our history, as we are, we hope you'll submit your comments to them today. All the instructions are right there on the 'Records, Not Revenue' website, including a postal mail address in case a good old fashioned letter is more your style.

Thanks for reading, and we hope we'll see *your* comments in the Federal Register.

- Brooke Schreier Ganz
President and Founder, Reclaim The Records
Mill Valley, California (but currently in Sherman Oaks, California for Thanksgiving vacation)