During the 1940s immigrants needed to follow standard processes to adjust their residency status in the United States. For immigrants seeking permanent status whose temporary status was running out or who were technically deportable but found to be “meritorious,” there was a secondary practice that the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) would occasionally employ. Often referred to as a voluntary departure with preexamination, the immigrant would voluntarily leave the United States for a specified number of days in order to apply for an immigration visa at the American Consul abroad. If there was a visa available for that nationality (origin quotas were still in effect), the immigrant could apply for preexamination in the United States, get approved as admissible, travel outside the United States (often to Canada) with a special border permit, obtain the proper immigration visa, and return to the United States as a legal permanent resident. Most immigrants utilizing this process crossed and re-crossed the border in a single day, but the exit and re-entry formally changed their status to “Lawfully Admitted.”
One immigrant who utilized this arrangement was Elsbeth Lindner (née Schulein), also known as Jacqueline E. Lindner. Lindner was born in Nuremberg, Germany, on September 1, 1906, and eventually built a successful career as a freelance fashion artist and designer in Berlin and Munich. Due to religious persecution, she and her husband, Richard Lindner, departed Germany and moved to Paris, France, in July 1933. The Lindners later entered the United States on January 29, 1941, at New York City, as temporary visitors. Elsbeth had two sisters already residing in the United States, so she set out to obtain permanent residency as well.
After Lindner picked up a freelance project with Vogue magazine, Lucian Vogel, Associate Editor for Condé Nast Publications, Inc. (publishers of Vogue), submitted an affidavit to INS requesting that she be granted a permit which would enable her to work in the United States. In his April 14, 1941, affidavit Vogel said, “I wish to state that Madame Elsbeth Lindner, a fashion artist who entered this country on January 29, 1941 with an Emergency Visitor’s Visa, was one of my best collaborators in France, and it is very important for us to be able to utilize her peculiar talent and her very specialized knowledge of the reproduction of printed fabrics.” INS held an interview with Lindner at Ellis Island in response to the request. With support from the National Refugee Service, an application for extension of stay and a later application for preexamination were submitted.
A preexamination hearing was eventually held on February 2, 1943, at Ellis Island. The Lindners were granted permission to enter Canada at Windsor, Ontario, for a period of ten days. The pair were readmitted to the United States via the Peace Bridge from Fort Erie, Ontario, Canada, to Buffalo, New York, on February 4, 1943, upon presentation of German quota immigration visas issued that same date by the American Consulate at Windsor, Ontario. Elsbeth went on to work as a fashion illustrator in New York City for Saks Fifth Avenue under the name Jacqueline E. Lindner, and her illustrations were published in a number of popular fashion and lifestyle magazines.
Documentation of Lindner’s pursuit of an immigration visa can be found in her Alien File (A-File) maintained by the National Archives at Kansas City. Created by INS beginning in April 1944, A-Files contain all records of any active case of an alien not yet naturalized as they passed through the immigration and inspection process. To learn more about A-Files and the search and request process, you can visit: https://www.archives.gov/research/immigration/aliens.
Memorandrum to the Canadian Legation dated December 8, 1942, in regards to obtaining permission for Elsbeth and Richard Lindner to enter Canada for the purpose of applying for immigration visas. Record Group 566, Records of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services; Alien Case Files, 1944-2003; Alien Case File for Elsbeth Lindner (NAID 7234721).
Preexamination Border Crossing Identification Card for Elsbeth Lindner. Record Group 566, Records of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services; Alien Case Files, 1944-2003; Alien Case File for Elsbeth Lindner (NAID 7234721).
Application for Immigrant Visa (Quota) for Elsbeth Lindner. Record Group 566, Records of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services; Alien Case Files, 1944-2003; Alien Case File for Elsbeth Lindner (NAID 7234721).