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Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation Helps Stop Fee Increase for Immigration Case Files

January 31, 2024

The efforts of the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation and other genealogical researchers were successful in stopping a proposed increase in fees to access alien cases files and other critical immigration records.

A new rule released by the U.S. Customs and Immigration Service shows the fee for online file applications dropped from $65 to $30, a 54 percent decrease. The fee for an immigrant’s paper file rose from the previous $65 to $80, which tracked the rate of inflation between 2024 and 2016, the last time the fee was increased. 

The original fee proposal would have raised the cost to $240, almost four times the previous cost.

Alien case files contain immigration and citizenship records for millions of immigrants, including first-generation Japanese Americans, known as the Issei, who were later incarcerated during World War II.

Relatives of former incarcerees use these files to learn more about their family histories, and researchers use them to shed light on Issei experiences. The original proposed fee increase to access these public documents would have made that vital work more difficult.

“I’m proud that Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation staff were instrumental in limiting these fees,” said Foundation Chair Shirley Ann Higuchi. “We want to ensure the access to information critical to understanding the history of our community.”

The Foundation has added a new family research service to members at the $250 annual level. This latest USCIS decision makes it easier for HMWF and its members to find more information about the people who were incarcerated at Heart Mountain during the war.

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