Naturalization...

Determine if an ancestor was ever naturalized and, if so, discuss your consulate's requirements for proving this.

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Naturalization...

Postby Anthony_S » Thu Aug 14, 2008 4:31 pm

Hello, I was excited when I found out about this program and wanted to jump in head first but decided to do some scout work first. My paternal (straight up the male lineage) great-grandfather immigrated to America around 1900. In speaking with several family members I believe he never became a naturalized citizen. I called the New York Archives to get information and a very helpful guy gave me about 6 sources to check for a certificate of naturalization. Now, I don't want to go on a wild goose chase looking for naturalization records and he told me if he never naturalized "it's hard to prove a negative". How do I go about determining if he was or was not a naturalized citizen without going through 10 different sources spot checking? Thank you for any assistance.
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Re: Naturalization...

Postby AnotherCitizenToBe » Thu Aug 14, 2008 4:47 pm

Anthony_S wrote:Hello, I was excited when I found out about this program and wanted to jump in head first but decided to do some scout work first. My paternal (straight up the male lineage) great-grandfather immigrated to America around 1900. In speaking with several family members I believe he never became a naturalized citizen. I called the New York Archives to get information and a very helpful guy gave me about 6 sources to check for a certificate of naturalization. Now, I don't want to go on a wild goose chase looking for naturalization records and he told me if he never naturalized "it's hard to prove a negative". How do I go about determining if he was or was not a naturalized citizen without going through 10 different sources spot checking? Thank you for any assistance.


Don't believe family oral history in regards to naturalization - everyone still living on both sides of my family thought neither of my grandfathers naturalized but in fact both did and I have the papers to prove it.

Get a copy of his death certificate if at all possible (you will need it eventually anyway); you'll see something like "Citizen of the US: Y/N ___" or "Citizen of _________ (country)." Although not always 100% accurate (the information typically provided by a grieving loved-one at the time of death...), it is an excellent starting point.

Where (city & state) did he settle and spend most of his time in the US? That info will suggest some places to begin your search for papers.
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Re: Naturalization...

Postby matta » Thu Aug 14, 2008 5:27 pm

Anthony_S wrote:Hello, I was excited when I found out about this program and wanted to jump in head first but decided to do some scout work first. My paternal (straight up the male lineage) great-grandfather immigrated to America around 1900. In speaking with several family members I believe he never became a naturalized citizen. I called the New York Archives to get information and a very helpful guy gave me about 6 sources to check for a certificate of naturalization. Now, I don't want to go on a wild goose chase looking for naturalization records and he told me if he never naturalized "it's hard to prove a negative". How do I go about determining if he was or was not a naturalized citizen without going through 10 different sources spot checking? Thank you for any assistance.


It is possible to prove a lack of naturalization to the Italian consulate. What is required depends on the consulate at which you are applying; however the most strict consulates require 5 pieces of information:

1. A certificate of non-existence of record from the USCIS (www.uscis.gov/genealogy)

2. A letter of no record from NARA (www.archives.gov)

3. A letter of no record from the county where your ancestor lived

4. A copy of the US Census after your grandfather was born indicating a "AL" or "PA" under the citizenship column.

5. An exemplified (with apostille) copy of the death certificate listing his citizenship as Italy.

The specific steps for obtaining each of these documents are scattered throughout the site. The USCIS certificate takes more than a year, so I would suggest starting that ASAP. The other forms vary, but no one form should take more than 8 weeks by mail (many can be obtained same day in person).

Some consulates only require some, some require all. However, to the best of my knowledge, if there's no naturalization, all require #1, so go ahead and order that, then ask around to see if the others are needed.
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Postby tonyric » Fri Aug 15, 2008 8:34 am

I am curious if the new genealogy program will cut down on the waiting time through the USCIS. Here is hoping, since that can take over a year.
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Postby jlg » Fri Aug 15, 2008 9:38 am

It is too soon to tell. The new office just began accepting requests two days ago. The hope is that they will be faster, but the concern is whether the informational versus certified nature of the copy will be an issue.
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Postby matta » Fri Aug 15, 2008 10:56 am

jlg wrote:It is too soon to tell. The new office just began accepting requests two days ago. The hope is that they will be faster, but the concern is whether the informational versus certified nature of the copy will be an issue.


The consulates will be forced to react if they're requiring something that is impossible to obtain (a certified copy from USCIS). It will just take some time for the people who filed under the new USCIS system to get to critical mass and the consulate generate gets enough complaints.

Most consulates accept certified copies of the petition and oath from NARA or the county courts, so I suspect that the rest of the consulates will be forced to follow that policy.

In reality, the USCIS should only be necessary for those looking to prove a lack of naturalization. Once you have proof from another source, that should be good enough to establish a date.
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Postby tonyric » Fri Aug 15, 2008 11:34 am

OK, since my GGF didn't naturalize I will need the certificate of "Record not found". OK, I will get the request in the mail now. :)
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Postby tonyric » Sun Aug 17, 2008 12:05 pm

tonyric wrote:OK, since my GGF didn't naturalize I will need the certificate of "Record not found". OK, I will get the request in the mail now. :)


Correction, now I have proof that he did naturalize.
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Postby AnotherCitizenToBe » Sun Aug 17, 2008 1:02 pm

tonyric wrote:
tonyric wrote:OK, since my GGF didn't naturalize I will need the certificate of "Record not found". OK, I will get the request in the mail now. :)


Correction, now I have proof that he did naturalize.


Like I said earlier, never trust oral family history in regards to the question of naturalization which may have occurred 50-80 years ago (or more).

:D
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Postby tonyric » Sun Aug 17, 2008 1:59 pm

AnotherCitizenToBe wrote:
tonyric wrote:
tonyric wrote:OK, since my GGF didn't naturalize I will need the certificate of "Record not found". OK, I will get the request in the mail now. :)


Correction, now I have proof that he did naturalize.


Like I said earlier, never trust oral family history in regards to the question of naturalization which may have occurred 50-80 years ago (or more).

:D


Wasn't oral history, it was a supposition based on a lack of being able to find records. I still cannot find the record in ancestry.com. lol
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Postby matta » Sun Aug 17, 2008 2:19 pm

tonyric wrote:
Wasn't oral history, it was a supposition based on a lack of being able to find records. I still cannot find the record in ancestry.com. lol


I think I've got you beat. I have the original declaration of intention and have sent it with all applications, but NARA, the county archives, and the actual court that signed the document tell me it doesn't exist.

I assume they shred the DOI if the person doesn't return to file a petition, but still... it's a legal document, someone should have a record of it somewhere*. Oh well, if USCIS has nothing, I'll take the letter of no record.



* I am aware that if the petition was filed in a different jurisdiction than the DOI, the DOI is moved to the new jurisdiction; however we are certain no petition was ever filed. The DOI was only filed because of the war.
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Postby tonyric » Sun Aug 17, 2008 2:26 pm

WOW, destruction of governmental records has always (I thought) was against the law. A possibility it was destroyed unintentionally? LOL I know, that is like asking your child if they ate the last cookie and them denying it with the crumbs still on their lips. No matter if you know the answer you just may never get the truth.
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Postby matta » Sun Aug 17, 2008 3:30 pm

tonyric wrote:WOW, destruction of governmental records has always (I thought) was against the law. A possibility it was destroyed unintentionally? LOL I know, that is like asking your child if they ate the last cookie and them denying it with the crumbs still on their lips. No matter if you know the answer you just may never get the truth.


While I'm no expert on US Government document practices (though I feel like I should be, and at times seem to know more than the people working in the government), my understanding is that if the Petition is not filed within 7 years from the date of the Declaration of Intent, the DOI becomes invalid completely. A person can't reinstate a previous DOI, he has to start the process over completely with a new DOI.

So, while it should certainly not happen, I could see a situation where the DOIs become invalid, and the court shreds them or sends them off to the corner of some government warehouse in North Dakota (or should I say Missouri?) never to be seen again.

I could also see this happening on a mass-scale in 1948-49. In 1941-42, all many, many immigrants from Italy, Germany, and Japan (including at least one GGF for me) started the process, but did not complete it after the war.

Oh, well. We'll see if the USCIS has a copy. The next question is where to go if just a DOI is found. Theoretically, I could get a letter of non-existence (of naturalization) from the USCIS, but a DOI dated 23 years after the birth of my GM should be enough for the consulate (but I'm sure won't be).
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Postby bjs » Mon Aug 18, 2008 11:20 am

Just as another data point... My great-grandfather filed a Declaration of Intent that then expired and he filed again years later. When I requested the naturalization papers, I got both the first and second Declarations (along with Petition, Oath, etc. for the second). So my impression is that these lapsed DOIs are not shredded and still exist, generally speaking. (Finding them is another matter, of course. :) )

In my opinion, it could be useful to have an expired DOI when available in order to help resolve discrepancies.
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