Wishful Wednesday: Visa Files

I have added an item to my wish list today. The records today that I wish I could obtain are Visa Files. According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website:

Visa Files are the official arrival records of immigrants admitted for permanent residence between July 1, 1924, and March 31, 1944. The photograph, large amounts of biographical information, and attached vital records make Visa Files among the most valuable immigration records for genealogical research.

To obtain the Visa Files, you have to submit a Record Search first to obtain the seven-digit Visa Number. The cost for each search is $20. Once you have the Visa Number, the cost to obtain each file is $35.

Several of Harold’s relatives arrived during the period from 1924 to 1944. Israel Jacob Rubinstein arrived in this country on November 20, 1925. His wife Rose and children arrived March 26, 1929.  Abraham Wolf, along with his mother Goldie Ruchel, arrived June 3, 1927. There would most likely be Visa Files for Israel, Rose, Abraham and Goldie. All four arrived from Poland after the Immigration Act of 1924 that severely limited immigration.

Established by Immigration Acts of 1921 and 1924, the national origins system numerically limited immigration for the first time in United States history. Each nationality received a quota based on its representation in past United States census figures. The State Department distributed a limited number of visas each year through U.S. Embassies abroad and the Immigration Service only admitted immigrants who arrived with a valid visa.

The 1924 law (the Johnson-Reed Act) imposed a total quota on immigration of 165,000—less than 20 percent of the pre-World War I average. Only 5,982 immigrants from Poland were allowed to legally enter the country each year from 1924 to 1929. In 1928, the applicants who registered for permission to immigrate from Poland were 31,231. The Visa files may shed some light on how the Wolf family and Rubinstein family members secured a Visa when so many others could not.  What else might I find in these files that would tell more about these family members and their lives before immigration?



Era of Restriction, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website at uscis.gov.

US immigration legislation online, library.uwb.edu.

Says Immigration Relief Emphasis Must Be on New Centers for Europe’s Jews, JTA Archive at http://www.jta.org


Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s