Dear Mr. Hunter,
Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!
The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is a depository of the permanently valuable non-current records of the United States Federal Government. If you are seeking US naturalization records, two copies of the certificate of citizenship were created. One given to the petitioner as proof of citizenship and one forwarded to Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). All INS records are now overseen by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). USCIS maintains duplicate copies of court records (including the certificate of citizenship) created September 27,1906-March 31,1956 within Certificate Files (C-Files) or an Alien File created April 1, 1956 and after (A-File).
C-Files can be requested through the USCIS Genealogy Program. Some A-Files are maintained by NARA and are name-searchable via the National Archives Catalog. NARA can provide a certified copy of any A-File within their holdings. Learn more about A-Files at NARA here. If you do not find a match in the Catalog, we suggest that you request all C-Files and A-Files through the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Genealogy Program. Please note that USCIS does not certify their records and NARA cannot certify records ordered through USCIS.
If you are pursuing dual citizenship, the consulates are aware that USCIS does not provide certified copies. Just be sure to maintain all letters/envelopes/etc. received from USCIS during the request process.
NARA does not have the authority to issue a certification of non-existence of a record and can only issue a negative search letter. Only the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) can issue a certification of non-existence of a record for post-1906 records: USCIS has exclusive authority over any matters concerning citizenship records after 1906, USCIS is the legal custodian of any record of naturalization since 1906, and USCIS possesses a copy of any naturalization records since 1906. Find further information about how to request Certification of Non-existence of a Record of Naturalization from USCIS here (see “How do I get Certification of Non-existence of a Record of Naturalization?”).
NARA can issue a negative search letter, which states that a member of the reference staff searched a specific index(es) for a federal court and did not locate a record for the individual requested. Negative results for a search of National Archives holdings only indicates that a naturalization record was not found in the possession of the National Archives, not that it does not exist.
Additionally, NARA cannot issue negative search letters in cases where a denied petition was located. In these instances, NARA can provide a certified copy of the denied petition. A Certification of Non-Existence of a Record of Naturalization can be requested from USCIS.
We hope you find this helpful. Best of luck to your research!