NARA Releases Alien Files

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NARA Releases Alien Files

Today NARA releases Alien files held in Kansas City.

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 . Alien residents are those who were born in another county, resided in the U.S., but never applied for naturalization. The Alien files – commonly referred to as “A-Files” – were transferred to the National Archives from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) to theN ational Archives regional facility in Kansas City, Missouri. They are only a small part of the millions of case files that will eventually be transferred and opened to the public.
NARA Releases Alien Files

NARA Releases Alien Files

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 alien 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

If you plan to visit in person:

The National Archives at Kansas City has recently relocated to a new facility in the Union Station District of Kansas City. The A-Files records are not stored at this facility, but they may be retrieved with advance notice for researches who wish to view the original records.

Appointments are required to view the A-Files. Researchers must submit a written request at least three business days in advance of their desired appointment. Written requests must include all information required for record requests as outlined above.

Before submitting a request we ask that you search for the individual in the National Archives Catalog. The catalog contains the name of every individual presently contained in our alien files holdings. If you do not have access to a computer, members of our staff can aid in this process. If the name of the individual you are researching does not appear within the National Archives Catalog we ask that you refrain from submitting a record request as we will be unable to provide reference service.

E-mail: Afiles.KansasCity@nara.gov

Address: National Archives at Kansas City
Attn: A-Files Request
400 W. Pershing Rd.
Kansas City, MO 64108

For more Sassy Jane posts on using National Archives records, click here.

By |6 Nov 2010|Archives|Comments Off on NARA Releases Alien Files

About the Author:

Nancy Loe has an MA in American History and an MLS in Library Science and Archives. She has appeared on PBS’s American Experience, at Rootstech, SCGS Jamboree, and state and regional genealogy conferences. Her website was featured in Family Tree Magazine's “Social Media Mavericks: 40 to Follow.”