Instructions on Making a Genealogy Request Online
The step-by-step instructions below apply to Index Search Requests, the most common request received by the USCIS Genealogy Program. However, all requesters can benefit from reading the instructions. Much of the information pertains to both Index Search and Record Requests.
Step 1: Beginning Your Index Search Request
Visit our Index Search Request webpage. Then, perform these tasks in order:
- Click "Index Search $65."
- Complete the "Requester Information" page. You must choose a method of contact: mail, telephone, or email. USCIS researchers may use this information to contact you in the event that they need additional information about your request. Providing a telephone number or email address allows our researchers to contact you promptly and may accelerate the completion of your request. Index search results will be sent by postal mail to the address you enter.
- Click “Next.”
Step 2: Entering the Immigrant Information
Immigration Information Page - While the online form only requires you supply a last name, country of birth, and date of birth (actual or estimated), you must provide the immigrant's first and last names. Use the name(s) that you believe to be correct. You will have an opportunity to submit alternate names and spellings later.
Complete the date of birth field for both actual and estimated dates of birth. For an estimated year of birth, use January 1 as the month and day of birth (for example, 01/01/1905). If you have conflicting dates of birth, enter the one you believe is most accurate. You can add an alternate date later.
If your ancestor’s date of birth is less than 100 years ago or if you supplied an estimated date of birth, you will see a page notifying you of the required proof of death. If you do not have any of the acceptable forms of proof of death, you may cancel your request now and begin a new request when you have copies the necessary documents. At the end of the Index Search Request process you will have the opportunity to upload scanned copies of your documents. If necessary, the mailing address for paper copies is also provided.
Once you complete the Required Information, click “Next.”
2. Additional Information (Additional) Page - The next page allows you to provide additional information that may help our researchers locate your immigrant. Though it is not required, we recommended you supply as much of this information as possible. In many cases, our researchers can differentiate between immigrants with the same name only when additional information is provided.
- Immigrant's Date of Arrival - If you know the exact date of the immigrant’s arrival (listed on the immigrant’s arrival record or a ship’s passenger manifest), provide it in the date boxes. If you know the approximate date of arrival, select the appropriate date range from the drop down menu.
- Place of Residence - If you know any of the immigrant’s places of residence (often available through census records) and the approximate periods of residence, list them in the boxes provided.
3. Immigrant Information (Optinal) Page - Provide the following information if you can.
- Other Names - Because immigrants often changed their names, alternate names and spellings may help our researchers locate your ancestor. If you know any of these alternate names, please provide them. USCIS researchers will search only the alternate names that you provide and cannot return records for names other than those provided.
- Family Members - The names of family members (children, spouse, and sometimes parents) may help our researchers locate the immigrant. If you know any of these names, please provide them. Family member names are used only to help locate the immigrant in your request. You will not receive index search results for family members unless you submit a separate Index Search Request for each individual.
- Finally, other information may help our researchers find the immigrant. For example, providing the dates of military service may point our researchers toward a record of military naturalization. If you know the date of naturalization, military service, marriage, or other important information, please type in the box provided. You may also use this space to explain or provide additional information about conflicting dates of birth.
Step 3: Submitting Your Request
You now have the opportunity to review your request. If any of the information listed is incorrect, click “Previous” to go back and correct the errors. If the information is correct and you wish to proceed with your order, click “Submit." You will be unable to change your request once you click "Submit" (you will not, however, be charged at this point and you will still have the option to cancel the request).
After reviewing the Fee Payment Disclosure Statement, select the desired payment type (online or by mail) and click “Submit Payment” only once or else you may be charged multiple times. If you choose to pay by credit card, you will be redirected to pay.gov to enter your payment information. Once you submit payment information, you will automatically be returned to this webpage to complete your transaction.
On the next webpage titled Genealogy Search Request Submitted, do not close your browser. Instead, review the information and click "Next" at the bottom of the page. If you are making an Index Search Request or Records Request without Case ID, you will be prompted to supply a security question and answer. After submitting your security information you will receive your Case ID.
Step 4 : Upload Supporting Documents (if required)
If the immigrant's date of birth is less than 100 years ago, you must upload documentary proof of death with your online request. To do so, you will need to:
1. Identify an acceptable document - Examples of acceptable documentary proof of death include:
- Death certificate (uncertified copy);
- Printed obituaries, funeral programs, or photographs of gravestones;
- Bible, church, or other religious records;
- Records relating to the payment of death benefits;
- U.S. Social Security Death Index records (individual records only, not lists); and
- Other documents demonstrating that the immigrant is deceased.
2. Save that document in an electronic form - Accepted electronic file formats include:
- Image files (jpg, gif, png );
- PDF; or
- Microsoft Word Files. If you are sending more than one document, paste the images into a Microsoft Word document, save it, and upload the Microsoft Word file.
3. Upload the document - When prompted to upload your file, clicking "Browse . . ." should open a window titled "Open File . . ." or something similar. Locate the document on your computer, select the document, and click "open," "upload, or "OK" as indicated.
If you cannot upload an electronic document, you can choose to mail supporting documents. The system will provide mailing instructions. Do not mail original documents with your Index Search Request. Documents will not be returned to you.