National Archives at Chicago

Immigration and Naturalization FAQs

You can view a list of our Immigration and Naturalization on our Finding Aids page.

Q.   How do I request copies of naturalization records?

A.  All requests for naturalization records must be made in writing. We accept inquiries in person, through postal mail, e-mail, fax or you can order online.

Q.   What information is needed to locate a naturalization petition?

A.  To conduct an effective search of our records the following information is necessary: the naturalized person's (1) full name, (2) home address and/or city/town when naturalized, (3) approximate date of naturalization. Also useful are (4) date of birth, (5) date of U.S. arrival, (6) country of origin, (7) the name of the court that conducted the naturalization.

Q.   I lost my certificate of naturalization. Can you provide a copy of it?

A.  No. Only U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS, formerly the Immigration and Naturalization Service) has the legal authority to issue replacement copies of certificates of citizenship. Download their request form.

Q.   I had my name legally changed when I became a naturalized U.S. citizen. How do I find the record of my name change?

A.  If you petitioned to have your named changed in the U.S. District Court, Chicago, between November 1991 to January 13, 1999, we may be able to assist you. For all other courts, contact the Clerk of Court for the court in which your name change was administered.

Q.   Can the National Archives issue a letter of verification of citizenship?

A.  No. Only the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS, formerly the Immigration and Naturalization Service) has the legal authority to verify a person's citizenship.

Q.   What naturalization records do you have?

A.  A list of our naturalization holdings can be seen on our Finding Aids page.

Q.   My ancestor was naturalized in a county court. Do you have county records at the National Archives?

A.  No. For naturalization records created at the municipal, county or state level of government, contact the appropriate county courthouse or state archives.

Q.   Can the National Archives contact other Federal government offices to discuss the status of my citizenship?

A.  No. However, the Federal agency requiring naturalization documentation can directly contact the National Archives-Great Lakes Region and request photocopies of select naturalization petitions which may assist in establishing an individual's U.S. citizenship for the purpose of obtaining employment, entitlements or a temporary U.S. passport.

Q.   Does your facility maintain alien registration ("A" files) of the INS/USCIS?

A.  No. The USCIS is the sole agency responsible for providing access to these records.

Q.   I'm a genealogist. What information is contained within a naturalization petition?

A.  Generally pre-1906 naturalization petitions have little biographical data. Naturalization records after September 25, 1906, generally include: the address of the person naturalized, the city of birth, occupation, immigration information, and the names and birthdates of spouses and children. Occasionally records from the 1930's and 1940's have a photograph on the Declaration of Intention. In the early 1960's, the recording of the names and birthdates of children was discontinued.

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The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
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