Archives News: New Alien Records Released at NARA
For the first time, more than 300,000 case files on alien residents of the U.S. who were born before 1909 are now open to the public at the National Archives regional facility in Kansas City, Missouri. The “Alien Files” – commonly referred to as “A-Files” – were transferred to the National Archives from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) and are only a small part of the millions of case files that will eventually be transferred and opened to the public.
The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), the predecessor agency of the USCIS, began issuing aliens Alien Registration Numbers in 1940, and on April 1, 1944, began using this number to create the A-Files.
The National Archives states, “A-Files are a rich source of biographical information in that they contain relatively modern immigration documents, all in one file. Since the early 20th century the United States collected increasing amounts of information from immigrants and A-Files from mid-century hold a wealth of data, including visas, photographs, applications, affidavits, correspondence, and more.”
A-Files are eligible for transfer to the National Archives 100 years after the birthday of the subject of a file. The National Archives regional facility at Kansas City will maintain A-Files from all USCIS district offices except San Francisco, Honolulu, Reno, and Guam. Records for those areas will be housed at the National Archives in San Francisco because of the significant research use of related immigration files there. A-Files may be viewed in person by appointment at the National Archives regional facility in Kansas City, Missouri, or copies of files may be ordered for a fee.
Information on how to request copies of A-Files is located here. Search the Archival Research Catalog (ARC) first to find out if NARA currently has an A-File for a specific individual before you make a request.
How to Submit Requests
Nara accepts research requests either by e-mail, snail mail, or fax only.
- E-mail: Afiles.KansasCity@nara.gov
- Postal mail:
National Archives at Kansas City
Attn: A-Files Request
400 W. Pershing Rd.
Kansas City, MO 64108
- Fax: (816) 268–8038
Visiting in Person (by appointment only):
400 West Pershing Road
Kansas City, MO 64108
- E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Phone: 816-268-8000
Research Room Hours: Tuesday-Saturday
s: 8:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.