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USCIS Proposes Fee Increases for Genealogy Records # United States # Records Access

Jan Meisels Allen
 

 

  

 

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced through the Federal Register that they intend to increase the request fees charged by them, including for genealogy services.  Currently, the G-1041 Index Search Request is $65 and form G-1041A Genealogy Records Request is $65. The USCIS proposes to raise the fees to $240 and $385 respectively.  These are a 269 percent and 492 percent change respectively (if I did my math correctly).  They are based on the projected costs and volumes of the genealogy program. The search fee is non-refundable if nothing is found in their search. The projected costs include a portion of Lockbox costs and an estimated staffing requirement for genealogy workload.

 

Under the provision of Regulatory Flexibity Act (page 62338) it states the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) “does not have sufficient data on the requestors that file genealogy forms, Forms G–1041 and G– 1041A, to determine whether such filings were made by entities or individuals and thus is unable to determine if the fee increase for genealogy searches is likely to have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.” Comments on the impact of increase on fees on small entities is for the public to comment.  DHS was not able to determine the numbers of regional centers or genealogy requestors that would be considered small entities. DHS has previously determined that requests for historical records are usually made by individuals. If professional genealogists and researchers submitted such requests in the past, they did not identify themselves as commercial requestors and thus could not be segregated in the data. Genealogists typically advise clients on how to submit their own requests. For those that submit requests on behalf of clients, DHS does not know the extent to which they can pass along the fee increases to their individual clients. Therefore, DHS does not currently have sufficient data to definitively assess the estimate of small entities for these requests.

 

Their rationale is after 10 years of operating the genealogy program with the ultimate goal to provide the search results and records more quickly when pre-existing digital records exist. They propose to encourage requestors to submit the electronic versions of Form G-1041 and Form G-1041 through the online portal at https://www.uscis.gov/genealogy, thereby reducing the administrative burden to USCIS. Requestors that cannot submit the forms electronically may still submit paper copies of both forms with the required filing fees.

 

Under the current system, a requestor fills out the search form, G-1041, pays the fee and waits to learn if records are found. If they are found, then the requestor must complete form G1041-A and pay the fee. What is being proposed, is USCIS to provide the requestor with those pre-existing digital records, if they exist, in response to the initial search request.  Records Index Search and provide the pre- existing digital records to either an electronic reading room that can be accessed with a unique pin number, by mail with a CD, or paper copy and not require Form G–1041A. If no records exist, or if only paper copies of the records exist, then the requestor must follow the current process.  With this new proposed changed USCIS plans to use from G-1041-A Genealogy Records Request to only paper file requests. Consistent with current practices, requestors must still pay the genealogy records request fee for a paper record requested. USCIS believes the change will increase efficiency and decrease future wait times for requestors.

 

The notice compares work volume from FY 2016/2017 the projected workload receipts for G-1041 the search request was 3,605 and projected for FY 2019/2020 4,650 an increase of 1, 045 requests.  For form G-1041A the records request, FY 2016-2017 was 2,410 and for FY 20192020 the projection is 2,550 or an increase of 140 records requests.


Fees must be remitted from a bank or other institution located in the United States and payable in U.S. Currency.


To read the proposed rule see:

https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2019-11-14/pdf/2019-24366.pdf

The Genealogy section is Section N which starts on page 62315-62316.

See Section 103.40 for Genealogical Research Requests on page 62359.

There are fees with DACA renewals with and without ICE transfers and I do not know why there are genealogy requests tied to DACA renewal fees (page 62329, 62331).

 

See page 62343 (e) for Genealogy requests for their rationale for recovering costs of the program even though they do no know if there are professional genealogists or individuals requesting the records. They acknowledge that with their proposed electronic request form there may be a reduced administrative costs. DHS requests comments from the public on the impacts to small entities of the proposed fee increases to the genealogy forms.

 

This is a 92 page proposed rule the remainder does not affect genealogy.


Written comments must be submitted on or before December 16, 2019.  Comments must be identified by DHS Docket No. USCIS– 2019–0010 by one of the following methods:

•Federal eRulemaking Portal: http:// www.regulations.gov

•By Mail: Samantha Deshommes, Chief, Regulatory Coordination Division, Office of Policy and Strategy, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Department of Homeland Security, 20 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Mailstop  #2140, Washington, DC 20529–2140.

No hand delivered or couriered comments will be accepted. Nor will they accept anything on digital medial storage devices such as CDs/DVDs or USB drives.

 

Effective date is influenced by the FY 2020 which began on October 1,2019 there fore it may affect the second year of the biennial period.

 

 

Jan Meisels Allen

Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee

 

 

Ellen
 

I found the proposed rule as it relates to genealogy records very confusing.  I recently submitted a Form G-1041 by mail - I did not see a way to submit it electronically.  I have yet to receive a response from USCIS.  What do they mean by "pre-existing digital records" and how would I know whether they are available?  Is the $385 for all records or only for a single item, like a visa application?  I'm trying to understand whether the proposed changes (other than the considerable cost increases) would be beneficial.

Ellen 
Saratoga County, NY 

Jan Meisels Allen
 

The home page for USCIS genealogy is: https://www.uscis.gov/genealogy  On the right under additional help is a link to order online or or go directly to:
 https://genealogy.uscis.dhs.gov/ which is the web page for requests and fill out which form you need, the index search, the search if you know the case ID or the for where you don't know the search ID.

Yes, the fees are per request so if you are looking for Hannah Gold and they have the record for her it will be $385. If you are looking for multiple people it will be a multiple of that fee.

Preexisting digital records means the records have been digitized and exist as such, If they don't have them digitized then the paper copy is the route and fee one had to pay.

I have no idea how long it takes for USCIS to reply--the request center is in Missouri.

Welcome to government speak and reading regulations.

There is nothing beneficial to the proposed rule in my estimation other than they are dramatically raising the prices so get your orders in soon before the proposed regulation becomes final.

Jan Meisels Allen
Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee




On Saturday, November 16, 2019, 7:43:03 AM PST, lnmp <lnmp@...> wrote:


I found the proposed rule as it relates to genealogy records very confusing.  I recently submitted a Form G-1041 by mail - I did not see a way to submit it electronically.  I have yet to receive a response from USCIS.  What do they mean by "pre-existing digital records" and how would I know whether they are available?  Is the $385 for all records or only for a single item, like a visa application?  I'm trying to understand whether the proposed changes (other than the considerable cost increases) would be beneficial.

Ellen 
Saratoga County, NY 

jbonline1111@...
 

Thank you for this information.  The fee as it stands would be a burden for many retirees such as myself.  The increases are not warranted.  I encourage all to write a brief comment. It is very easy to do.  Copy the following: DHS Docket No. USCIS– 2019–0010.    Then click on the link Ms. Allen provided and insert the docket information in the search box. That brings up the comment box you will use.  

Renée K. Carl
 

There is an ad hoc group of genealogists currently writing talking points and organizing an action campaign to address the proposed increases and other changes to the USCIS Genealogy program. We hope to have the information ready to use on Monday. Stay tuned!

jbonline1111@...
 

Great, thanks for the update. I sent Jan's message on to a non-Jewish friend who does genealogy. Hopefully she will share it as well.
Barbara




On Sun, Nov 17, 2019 at 3:27 PM Renée K. Carl <rkcarl@...> wrote:
There is an ad hoc group of genealogists currently writing talking points and organizing an action campaign to address the proposed increases and other changes to the USCIS Genealogy program. We hope to have the information ready to use on Monday. Stay tuned!

Marion Werle
 

Thanks, Renee. The proposed fees are outrageous. 

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Marion Werle

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Marion Werle
<canadagenes@...>