Three weeks left in comment period
Just 21 days.
That’s all the time remaining.
Three weeks until the deadline for commenting on an enormous fee hike that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigrations Services (USCIS) wants to impose on genealogy records. If this rule goes through, getting copies of vast numbers of genealogically valuable records will be beyond the financial reach of many researchers, with fees rising by as much as 300%.1
The Legal Genealogist reported on this proposal back in January,2 and — trust me on this one! — will do so again before time runs out.
But the bottom line is this: as individual genealogists and as a genealogical community, we need to speak out on this.
Now… lots of folks are concerned that they aren’t quite sure what to say.
Not to worry.
First off, you can head over to the Records, Not Revenue website in its guide to issues with the Genealogy Program. Read through the site’s Summary of the Issues and its suggestions for Comment Starters.
If you’d like to hear more before commenting, and you’re a member of the National Genealogical Society, NGS is hosting an online discussion with the folks who started Records, Not Revenue — Rich Venezia, Marian Smith, and Renée Carl — on February 22 at 8 p.m. EST.3 Check your email for an invitation.4
Remember as well that the comment system for this proposed rule is all online, so you can read the comments posted by others to get more ideas on what to say. Just remember to use the search box to find comments about genealogy — the fee hike proposal affects all USCIS functions, not just the genealogy program, so lots of comments don’t apply to us.
And if you’re concerned that you don’t know how to comment, not to worry about that either. It’s really easy. Start out by writing up what you want to say on your own computer, and have it ready to post to the online system. Be sure to specifically mention that you’re commenting on the fees for the Genealogy Program. Otherwise the comment may be lost in the mass of comments opposing other proposed fee increases.
Then head over to the Federal Register page for this rule here. You’ll see a green box that reads “Submit a Formal Comment.” Click on that and follow the prompts. You can also comment at the Regulations.gov website here using the blue Comment button. The reference number is DHS Docket No. USCIS 2021-0010 — make sure to follow all the instructions to be sure your comment posts.
And, of course, always make sure to send a copy of your comments to the two United States Senators from your state and to the member of the House of Representatives for your district. You can get names and contact information for your Senators at Senate.gov and for your House member at House.gov.
It really is easy to speak out on this.
What will be hard is getting records if we don’t speak out.
So join me — speak out. Do it now.
And remember: the deadline for public comments on the rule is Monday, March 6, 2023, at 11:59 p.m. EST.
Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “Speak out on USCIS fee hikes!,” The Legal Genealogist (https://www.legalgenealogist.com/blog : posted 13 Feb 2023).
- See “U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Fee Schedule and Changes to Certain Other Immigration Benefit Request Requirements,” 88 FR 402 (4 Jan 2023). ↩
- Judy G. Russell, “USCIS proposes BIG fee hike,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 5 Jan 2023 (https://www.legalgenealogist.com/blog : accessed 13 Jan 2023). ↩
- And if you’re not an NGS member, why not??? ↩
- Mine came in on February 8, with a return address of membership (at) ngsgenealogy.org. ↩