USCIS experience & concerns

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

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USCIS experience & concerns

Postby Destin2BeItaliano » Tue Jul 28, 2009 12:09 am

On December 18, 2008 I submitted my request for a search in hopes of getting a "no record found." I'd heard it could take up to a year so wasn't holding my breath.

Meanwhile I had ordered various other related documents the following February while I was living/working out of state and had them sent to my PO Box in Florida, which is actually my mothers but I've received mail there for nearly ten years also. So naturally I was surprised when the documents I was expecting were not arriving even though various vital records officers confirmed having sent them. As it turns out the USPS, specifically the local branch where my PO Box is located, began to require that all individuals who receive mail at a PO Box to have their I.D on file (allegedly under new requirements by the Department of Homeland Security). Never mind that they'd been delivering my mail there for a decade already but to top it off the branch did not notify me, nor any of the many other local families who were affected by this fiasco. Luckily it was soon straightened out and the vital records resent. Since I hadn't expected to have my request from the USCIS processed for perhaps close to a year I didn't think much of it. However, on July 11, 2009 I visited their site and noticed a posting that they were currently handling April 2009 requests with a few older ones still. I emailed the USCIS, referencing the order numbers on the confirmation I was emailed in December and to my utter shock I received a telephone call (that I missed) within 15 minutes of sending my email inquiry immediately followed by an email, which like the voice mail left was very detailed, letting me know that my request had been processed on March 4th. The representative, Ms. Denise Long, provided her direct telephone number both in the email and phone message inviting me to contact her at my convenience. I returned her call immediately and she was an absolute joy to deal with. She confirmed my request and emailed it out to me within minutes and answered a few questions. A short while later I emailed her to ask a few other questions which she contacted me via phone to talk about even goings o far as to offer resources and then emailed them to me!!! We all know the USCIS people are busy...and she went out of her way several times to be of assistance. I must add that I first sent my email at 3:30 pm and spoke with her the last time just minutes before 5:00 pm. Talk about fantastic customer service!!

Sadly I did not receive a "no record found" response - but the letter Ms. Long sent included a C-File number from 1919. However, the naturalization took place in the court in Rochester, NY; which is more than a little concerning considering my great-grandfather never lived in NY, and in fact lived in Birmingham, AL where his wife, herself the eldest child of Italian immigrants, was born as were all their children. His wife’s (my great-grandmother) parents and younger siblings were living in Brooklyn, NY at the time of the 1930 census but haven’t been able to confirm where any of them lived in 1919 or more likely at the time of the 1920 census. Though it is possible they could have been in NY in 1919 its not likely that a naturalization for someone in Brooklyn would be under the jurisdiction of Rochester at the other side of the state! Additionally, his surviving children have no knowledge of their having ever lived in New York themselves.

Though I went ahead and spent the $20.00 to order the C-File noted on the record search response I’m concerned that it will have been a waste. Has anyone dealt with a similar situation and received a record that was in fact not that of their ancestor? Any thoughts/suggestions/feedback are appreciated!
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Re: USCIS experience & concerns

Postby zagnut » Tue Jul 28, 2009 2:22 am

Destin, we have some interesting parallels. My wife's paternal grandfather naturalized in Rochester NY in 1919- name Placido Farsaci. Her maternal grandfather raised his family in Birmingham, AL- name Giuseppe Bivona (though he went by Vivona). Both families originated in Sicilia, but in different provinces.

As for receiving someone else's ancestor's certificate- yes I've heard of it happening. If it was a name more than one Italian held, and the date ranges are similar, it can happen.
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Re: USCIS experience & concerns

Postby Destin2BeItaliano » Tue Jul 28, 2009 7:51 am

Wow, we do have some intreresting similarities. Italian surnames of relatives who lived in AL include Ferlisi (mine), Tamburello/Tombrello, Raia, Colca, just to name a few off the top of my head. Early immigrants lived in Cardiff which currently has a population of only about 80! It's about 20 mins from Birmingham. The Ferlisi's however lived in Birmingham and were grocers (as were the Tamburello/Tombrello family of whom my 2nd great grandmother was born).

I wonder what the deal is with Rochester and Alabama resident immigrants!?
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Re: USCIS experience & concerns

Postby Destin2BeItaliano » Sat Aug 08, 2009 4:17 pm

Ok fellow citizenship seekers! I am very disappointed and frusturated. As you will see in my previous post, I had strong concerns about the file that USCIS located not being my great-grandfathers. I received the C-File today (requested it 20 days ago) and just as I suspected its not him! Not only is it NOT him, but the ONLY matching information was his name. I gave a specific day and month of birth and two potential birth years based on his tomb stone (which is incorrect) and passanger records and death certificate. The Giuseppe Ferlisi they found did have a birth day in 1889 but no where close to the day and month I provided. Additionally, I clearly stated he was widowed, with one son, and had remarried around 1920 (which would have been just after this guy naturalized) but the record clearly states this man was single with no children. Additionally, my great-grandfather lived his entire time in the U.S. (70 years) in Alabama which I clearly included in the original record search. This individual was of course a resident of Rochester, NY and naturalized there. I also gave the exact date and ship of arrival. When I previously spoke with a very kind woman at USCIS who as you'll read in previous posts was quite helpful (I thought) she said that her supervisor, who is the one who singed my letters, Ms. Lynda K. Spencer, personally checks each document before it is sent out after being located. So I wonder, what exactly does she check it for? Because this record has no more similarities than if it was for the von Trapps!

So does anyone have experience with situations like this? I'm told that requests are non-refundable. What about when they clearly f***ed up???
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Re: USCIS experience & concerns

Postby Destin2BeItaliano » Mon Sep 14, 2009 9:38 pm

Well after everything I was told that you can actually request a "Certificate of Non-Existence" even without having done a records search. If I had known that last November when I submitted my request for the search I would have went ahead and done so. Additionally, I was surprise to learn that there isn't a fee for a "Certificate of Non-Existence." So I sent my request about a month ago and am praying that it arrives in time for my appointment with the consulate on August 5, 2010. I have a feeling it will come in time.

I was told not to include the original search information since it had returned records for someone with the same name (just not my actual relative) because it often times confuses the person doing the Certification. This way they will just do an entirely new search for themselves and God willing compare the records better. However, now I'm a bit concerned that the same thing will happen again. So I'm going to send in another request this time noting the original search request number and that I've ordered those documents listed and they are not for my relative. Hopefully between the two requests I'll end up with the non-existence certification!
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Re: USCIS experience & concerns

Postby Em » Mon Sep 14, 2009 11:56 pm

I hope so too. You seem to be covering all possible bases, and I think you have plenty of time before your appointment. In the meantime, you may also want to do a "no record" search at the local level and obtain certified census records from NARA. The consulates seem to be getting more demanding regarding claims of "no record." Some are already asking for census records, and you don't know what they will be asking for next year. Best to be prepared for anything.
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