Alien Files (A-Files)
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) signed an agreement on June 3, 2009, to make the Alien Files a permanent series of records, transferred to NARA custody 100 years after the immigrant's year of birth.
As of September 2019, the National Archives at Kansas City received the following holdings:
- More than 900,000 A-Files for individuals who were born 1918 and prior.
As of September 2019, the National Archives at San Francisco received the following holdings:
- 200,000 A-Files for individuals who were born 1915 and prior, largely from the INS-Honolulu and INS-Guam District Offices
A-Files at the National Archives at San Francisco were formerly maintained by the San Francisco, Honolulu, Reno, and Guam District Offices of the Immigration and Naturalization Service. However, researchers seeking individuals who may have lived in these areas should check both the National Archives at San Francisco and Kansas City records for A-Files.
The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) began issuing each alien an Alien Registration number in 1940, and on April 1, 1944, began using this number to create individual case files, called Alien Files or A-Files.
A-Files contain all records of any active case of an alien not yet naturalized as they passed through the United States immigration and inspection process. An A-File might also be created without any action taken by the alien, for example if INS initiated a law enforcement action against or involving the alien.
In a few instances there are files on aliens who registered between 1940 and 1944. These files document aliens who received an Alien Registration number and form prior to 1944, and had an A-File created due to the re-opening of the case after 1944. Files from other series, such as Visa Files, were withdrawn and placed in the A-Files when cases were reopened in instances such as the filing of applications to replace a document, obtain a border crossing card, or petition for an immigrant relative.
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.
Links to Resources at NARA about Aliens
- National Archives Order Form for Copies of Alien Case Files (A-Files)
- A-Files at the National Archives at Kansas City
- Brief Overview of the World War II Enemy Alien Control Program
- Application by Alien for Relief from Military Service (DDS Form 301), and Alien's Personal History & Statement (DDS Form 304) for Illinois
- Alien Personal History and Statements, Iowa 1942-1946
- Alien's Personal History and Statement (DSS Form 304), 1942-1945, for Michigan
- Alien Personal History and Statements, Minnesota 1942-1946
- Alien Personal History and Statements, Missouri 1942-1946
- Alien Personal History and Statements, Nebraska 1942-1946
- Alien Personal History and Statements North Dakota, 1942-1946
- Search Selected Alien Documents in the National Archives Catalog
- Alien Applications for Permission to Depart, 1919-1920, U.S. District Court, District of Kansas
- Search the Japanese-American Internee Data File, 1942-1946 in the Access to Archival Databases (AAD)
- Among the Record Groups with Enemy Alien and Alien-related records are:
- Record Group 60, Department of Justice
- Record Group 85, Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS)
- Record Group 210, War Relocation Authority (WRA)
- Record Group 338, U.S. Army Operational, Tactical, and Support Organizations (World War II and Thereafter)
- Record Group 389, Office of the Provost Marshal General