Alien Registration

AR-2 – 1940-1944

The Alien Registration Program was a World War II-era national security measure ordered by the original Alien Registration Act of 1940. That 1940 Act directed INS to fingerprint and register every alien age 14 and older living or arriving in the United States. The Immigration and Naturalization Service (“INS”) used the Form AR-2 to make a record of all aliens residing in or entering the country between August 1940 and March 31, 1944.

Documents – The AR-2 may contain information such as

– Name
– Address
– Race
– Usual occupation
– Present occupation
– Present employer, including address
– Club, organization, or society memberships
– Arrest history
– Fingerprint
– Signature

– Name at time of entry to the US
– Date of Birth
– Gender
– Marital Status
– Port, date, ship and class of admission at last arrival in US
– Date of first arrival in US
– Years lived in US
– Intended stay in US
– Date and place of registration

– Other names used
– Citizenship/Nationality
– Height/ Weight
– Hair/ Eye Color
– Military service (Country, branch, dates)
– Date and number of Declaration of Intention (if filed), and city and State where filed.
– Date of Petition for Naturalization (if filed), and city and State where filed.

Alien Files (“A-Files”) – 1944 and after

Alien Files, or “A-Files,” are individual files identified by subject’s Alien Registration Number (“A-number”). A-Files became the official file for all immigration and naturalization records created or consolidated since April 1, 1944. Before A-Files, many aliens had more than one file with the agency. For example, an immigrant might have a Visa File, an AR-2, and a C-File. The A-File allowed for a consolidated file.

Documents – A-Files from mid-century hold a wealth of data, including visas, photographs, applications, affidavits, correspondence, and more. The amount of info in an A-File depends on the history of interaction between the immigrant and the agency.

Finding Records

Unless you are certain of your immigrant’s A-number, you are strongly encouraged to submit an Index Search Request before your Record Request to avoid complications. Besides avoiding a wrong number, the Index Search may also identify additional immigration records that you may want to include in your Records Request.

Click Here to Request an Index Search from USCIS

An index search currently costs $20

They will search their system which is partially automated and partially manual; The aim of the index search is to see if any records exist for your ancestor, if they do then you will receive a letter in the mail telling you
– How many records,
– What kind(s) of records,
– Where those records are currently located, and
– How to request the records.