Dear Michael Callahan:
Thank you for posting on History Hub!
Although we cannot offer opinions about services offered by other agencies, we can provide additional information about the records.
There is an FAQ that addresses what researchers can expect in their response on Index Searches: https://www.uscis.gov/records/genealogy/genealogical-records-help/genealogy-frequently-asked-questions (see "What information am I required to provide for a search of the historical indices, and what do I get in return?"). They do not provide specific details about individual files, but offer information about the broad file series they maintain.
USCIS provides information about the file types they make available (background information and image galleries): https://www.uscis.gov/records/genealogy (see "Records Available").Here is the information specific to the Certificate Files (C-Files) and Visa Files:
-C-Files image gallery: https://www.uscis.gov/records/genealogy/historical-record-series/c-files-image-gallery
[NOTE: The majority of C-Files contain only the Certificate of Naturalization, Petition for Naturalization, and Declaration of Intention.]
-Visa Files images gallery: https://www.uscis.gov/records/genealogy/historical-record-series/visa-files-image-gallery
We hope this information is helpful to your research!
Thank you for the reply.
Yes, their site does give examples but it's very weaselly. You "may" find this is not a good answer when you just paid $65 for their index search. I have hired researchers before and have had wonderful luck getting a clear picture of file content. This information (that I paid for) then allowed me to decide if I wanted to spend more money for the researcher to copy the files.
I feel that the service provided by USCIS is a ripoff. They control the index books and use that as an excuse as to why you should pay the $65 for the index search. Then, they give you minimal feedback so you again are gambling that something worthwhile is in the file(s). Maybe this business model made sense 20 years ago, when they were the only source. But today, many people are paying $$$ for sites like Ancestry that provides access to some of this information. Thus, I am being asked to pay money for information I may already have.
That's why I'm looking for people with actual experience. Did they find something useful? The person I am researching was once the subject of an FBI investigation during WWII. He was accused of being a Nazi spy. Each investigation found nothing but they kept pushing forward the deportation process. A FOIA request with the FBI reports the file has been destroyed. The USCIS provides no information regarding this file. Would a copy have made it back into the Visa or C file? The C file is dated 1932 and the Visa file is from 1926.
I've written the USCIS but they just blow me off and tell me to make a file request.