ALERT: Sample Protest Letter Regarding UCISS fee increase

There has been an extension see for receiving comments regarding the massive genealogy fee increase. Please refer to USCIS-2019-0010. “The comment period for the proposed rule published November 14, 2019, at 84 FR 62280 and extended on December 9, 2019 at 84 FR 67243, is reopened. Written comments and related material must be submitted on or before February 10, 2020

The above new deadline is thanks to Tony King’s conversation with Ron at Henry Tom’s January Las Vegas conference

Your action is needed before February 10 to keep United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) from increasing fees charged for genealogy files. 

These files are the basic starting point for most Chinese genealogy researchers including family historians.  The fees for a records index search are going from $65 to $240, whether or not there’s any information.  If there is info, the fees per file will increase from $65 to $385, for a total of $625 per file.  You can see how this fee increase would impact a researcher’s ability to follow paper trails and obtain critical information.  Please submit a comment no matter how brief.

Here is a sample comment that you can copy and paste and adjust to your personal situation:

To the USCIS:

Re: DHS Docket  No. USCIS-2019-0010, USCIS Genealogy Program 

I am a member of the Bay Area Chinese Genealogy Group.  This is a non-profit organization that provides resource information to any person who wishes to research their family history, without cost.  Through this organization, I have learned about the USCIS Genealogy Program as a valuable resource in family searches.

The fee of $65 for an index search seemed high, but attainable.  In view of additional fees should there be records I wish to access, it’s a financial strain, but one I could probably manage.  Now, I learn that there is a rule proposal that would jump the index fee alone to $240.  That is not realistic for anyone – especially if there are no records.  But even with finding records, it could raise the total costs to $625 and more if paper files are requested.

These records would not exist if not for the Chinese Exclusion Act (1882-1943) which imposed undue restrictions on immigration and caused our ancestors great harm and hardship.  Now you wish to continue that pain by charging us exorbitant fees to obtain those records. Furthermore, it was my understanding that these records were to be transferred to NARA where charges are minimal.  I hope I shall be able to access records that will tell me more about my family’s immigration history.

I strongly object to this fee increase and hope you will reverse it.


CC.  Senator ________
        Senator ________
        Representative _________
If you need your Congress person’s contact information, see the highlighted links below.

  • To send your comments, go to the link below that says Federal Rulemaking Portal.  That link will take you to another page of instructions.  To the upper right, is a “button” that says “Comment Now”.  Click that to get to the actual comment page.

Copy and paste your comment in the space provided.  Ignore “upload files” and complete your name.  Follow the rest of the directions to complete the process.  Remember, this comment will be posted on the USCIS page available for anyone to see, so it’s suggested you don’t get too personal.

Thank you for your help as it is important to all of us as Chinese family researchers

Send your comments BEFORE February 10, 2020 to:

• Send a copy of your comments to your US Senators and Representative (click on these links tor your senators and representative) and refer to DHS Docket No. USCIS-2019-0010. Tell them you care about preserving access to federal records!

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