Alien Registrations

Most researchers know the value of Naturalization records for our immigrant ancestors. They can provide wonderful information and open up or clarify new avenues of research for us. This page is about another important document that was kept on our ancestors who were not citizens. That is the Alien Registration Form.

The Alien Registration Program began to be used in August of 1940. Its purpose was to identify all non-citizens living in the United States at that time. Usually, resident aliens went to their local Post Office to register. These forms contain a wealth of information on our ancestors!

This is some of what a typical Alien Registration Form will contain:

  • name 
  • other names he is known by 
  • current address 
  • birth date and place 
  • physical description 
  • place, date, and ship he immigrated on 
  • occupation and place of employment 
  • whether or not he filed first papers or not 
  • other questions about clubs, military service, etc. 
  • their fingerprint

So, as you can see, these papers, often overlooked by researchers, are a gold mine of information. If your immigrant ancestors were here in 1940, but were not naturalized, then you would be wise to make every effort to get these valuable records.

For more information:

  • Alien Registration Records - general information 
  • Information on Searching the Index - If you don't already know the file number of any possible immigration document on your ancestor, you will need to have a search conducted of the Index. The search has to be done by the USCIS (U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) 
  • USCIS Genealogy Program, Web Request Page - From this page, you can submit an Index Search request or a Record Request. You can request these online using the web form and paying the fee online by credit card, or you can print out the forms and mail them in using the address provided. 

Be prepared to wait for, what could be, several months. But, it WILL be worth it! You may find out some valuable information on your ancestors that could even take you beyond your "brick wall." Please see examples below of an Alien Registration form I received on an ancestor


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Alien Registration Form, page 1

Alien Registration Form, page 2

© Kathy Andrade Cardoza 2022