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Visa Records

Visa Applications

The Department of State issues visas to foreigners traveling to the United States. Except for a brief time during the Civil War (1861-1865), before World War I, alien visitors did not require visas passports in order to enter the United States. The practice of requiring all aliens to obtain visas from U.S. officials abroad before departure for the United States began in 1917 as a war measure during World War I, and has continued since then.

There is one series of Visa Case Files covering the period 1914-1940. It is divided into three chronological segments: 1914-1923, 1924-1932, and 1933-1940, each arranged alphabetically by name. With the exception of precedent cases and files that contain policy material, individual case files for 1914-23 and 1924-32 have been destroyed.

For more information about Department of State visa records and related records of other agencies, please see our reference report.