NARA Signs Agreement to Preserve Millions of Immigration Files

On June 3, the National Archives and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services signed an agreement to designate as permanent the immigration files created on the millions of aliens residing in the United States beginning in 1944 until the present day. This represents the first step in the preservation of the 32 million records that were originally scheduled for disposal.

These Alien Case Files are commonly referred to as “A-Files.” The new agreement authorizes the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services/Department of Homeland Security to send A-files to the National Archives when 100 years have passed since the birth date of the subject of a file. The National Archives expects to receive the first transfer of A-files later this year, and will store the files at National Archives facilities in San Francisco and Kansas City. Researchers will be able to access the files at these two sites, or request copies of files. An index will be available to support research use.

The A-files include information such as photographs, personal correspondence, birth certificates, health records, interview transcripts, visas, applications and other information on all non-naturalized alien residents, both legal and illegal. The files are of particular interest to the Asian American community because many A-files supplement information in Chinese Exclusion Act era case files (1882-1943) that are already housed at the National Archives.