USCIS Proposed Rule to Increase Genealogical Research Fees

Are you ready for fee increases by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services of up to 225%? The following was written by the IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee:

On May 4th, the Federal Register published a proposed rule to increase various fees for services of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), including fees for their genealogy services. Public comment is invited, deadline for comments is July 5, 2016—60 days from the notice in the Federal Register. Below is a chart to show the current and proposed fees relevant to the genealogy services. Non-genealogy services are also being proposed to be increased but are not addressed in this posting. The fee schedule was last adjusted on November 23, 2010. USCIS calculates its fees to recover the full cost of USCIS operations, which do not include the limited appropriated funds provided by Congress. USCIS anticipates if it continues to operate at current fee levels, it will experience an average annual shortfall of $560 million between Immigration Examinations Fee Account (IEFA) revenues and costs. When Congress created the Genealogy Program under USCIS it required that the program be self-funded and cover all costs.

In 2010 DHS established a genealogy program to reduce delays for these requests. At the time, USCIS averaged 10,000 such requests over four years, and USCIS expected the workload to increase to 26,000 a year with the new program. The current genealogy program fees $20/$35 were not established based on the projected full cost of operating the genealogy research and information services of USCIS, although that was permitted by the authorizing law. At the time, USCIS did not have clearly segregated records of the full cost of operating its genealogy research and information services, and DHS has not since adjusted the genealogy program fees. After seven years of operating the program, DHS now has reliable data to determine the new fees. Currently, fee is $20 for each file copy from microfilm and $35 for each hard copy.

DHS proposes to charge a single $65 fee for Form G-1041A. See proposed 8 CFR 103.7(b)(1)(i)(F). Under the ABC model (ABC is a business management tool that assigns resource costs to operational activities and then to products and services), USCIS projected the cost of the forms G-1041 and G-1041A to be $46 each. The cost is based on the projected volumes and costs of the genealogy program. The projected costs include a portion of Lockbox costs, genealogy contracts, and a portion of costs related to the division that handles genealogy, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and similar USCIS workloads. The proposed $65 fee is based on the ABC model output, plus an additional $19 to recover the applicable administrative costs associated with funding these services, such as the USCIS Librarian and other genealogy research and information services. DHS does not propose to adjust the ABC model output for genealogy fees using the cost reallocation methodology as all costs incurred would have resulted in adding at least $141 to the proposed genealogy fees. Instead DHS proposes to add $19 to the model output for estimated applicable costs for a total proposed fee of $65.

Table 9—Proposed Fees by Immigration Benefit/p>

Immigration benefit request
Current fee ($)
Proposed fee ($)
Delta ($)
Percent change
G-1041 Genealogy Index Search Request $20 $65 $45 225%
G-1041A Genealogy Records Request (Copy from Microfilm) $20 $65 $45 225%
G-1041A Genealogy Records Request (Copy from Textual Record) $35 $65 $30 86%

To submit comments: Submissions should include the agency name and DHS Docket No. USCIS-2016-0001 for this rulemaking. Regardless of how you submit your comment to DHS, all submissions will be posted, without change, to the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov and will include any personal information you provide.

For access to the docket, go to http://www.regulations.gov and enter this rulemaking’s eDocket number: USCIS-2016-0001. The docket includes additional documents that support the analysis contained in this proposed rule to determine the specific fees that are proposed.

To read the regulation see: http://tinyurl.com/htmf73x
Original url:
https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2016/05/04/2016-10297/us-citizenship-and-immigration-services-fee-schedule#h-19

7 Comments

What I would really like is a response to my order for two files months ago. I have contacted them again, and still nothing. Not sure they have any staff that knows how to respond.

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We have always known how government works. They raise the price so naturally demand falls. That gives them less revenue than they anticipated and being government, they seek the only remedy they know – raising prices again. It was ever thus.

This was totally predictable, and predicted.

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MR Patrick Kelly (just another plastic paddy) May 11, 2016 at 3:35 am

It seem that they are catching the Irish decease? The Irish GRO raised the cost of their certificates 100%

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In reality the price will be $130 because you really need to have the index search done first. I have had dozens of requests for these records and the waiting time varies. The most lengthy delays come when the textual records are located at a regional facility, other than Maryland.
However, $130 is very inexpensive for a successful search. The point is, you never know what is in a file. Conversely the Government doesn’t know everything that is in the files either.
I once received a file that documented the individual from arrival in New York, to Pennsylvania, to North Dakota, to Montana, to Oregon, and finally ending up in San Francisco. All over a five year period. Along with the address of the employers. Would never have known this any other way. Conversely many documents are added after Naturalization.
If we don’t support the fee rise, and if this was for anything other than Genealogy, we would be paying over $500 each file. Someone must be on our side. If we object to the new price we run the risk of the Government shutting down the program. And no one wants that to happen.
Although I don’t like the price increase, I can live with it because of the priceless value of the material in the files.
Everything in Genealogy is objective when it comes to price. As an example: the USCIS files. It would take me decades and thousands of dollars to acquire, if at all possible, what is in the files. Hence purchasing the file for $130 would save me years and $$$$$.
The big problem I see is that people will now decide to skip the Index search to save the $65. If you do this, you will end up missing valuable records and probably have a “No Record” letter sent to you. The file numbers USCIS has almost inevitable never match those on the Family History Library’s Immigration records. Hence you receive a negative result. This is why the index search is essential.

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