Alien Registration

Alien registration was required in the United States beginning in 1940 for resident aliens. The records can be obtained for the years 1940-1944 from the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Alien Registration requirements applied to all aliens over the age of fourteen, regardless of nationality and regardless of immigration status.

Most resident aliens registered at a Post Office between July and December, 1940. To register, aliens were fingerprinted and filled out a two-page form. Perforations attached an additional card form (the AR-3) to the registration form. Each set of forms were serially numbered with a new development in Immigration and Naturalization Service recordkeeping--the Alien Registration Number. Registration officials forwarded completed forms to the INS for statistical coding, indexing, and filing. Once the AR-2 had been processed, the AR-3, or Alien Registration Receipt Card, was torn off and mailed to the registered alien. The alien then carried the Alien Registration Receipt Card to show compliance with the law.

Many millions of aliens who registered in 1940 had long been resident in the United States and remained here ever after. In some cases, a 1940 Alien Registration is the only INS document concerning such individuals. Early registrations (c. July 1940-April 1944/A-numbers below 12,000,000) are on microfilm in INS custody, searchable by name, date of birth, and place of birth. These records are subject to the Freedom of Information Act/Privacy Act.

Information included on the Alien Registration Form (AR-2):

Name used upon entry to the United States
Other names used (maiden names, nicknames, aliases)
Residence Address
Post Office Address
Date of Birth (month, day, year)
Place of Birth (city, province, country)
Marital Status (single, married, widowed, divorced)
Race (White, Negro, Japanese, Chinese, Other)
Physical Description (height, weight, hair and eye color)
Date, Port and Vessel/Carrier of Last Arrival in the US
Arrived as: Passenger, Crew member, Stowaway, Other
Class of Admission: Permanent Resident, Visitor, Student,
Treaty Merchant, Seaman, Official of a Foreign Government,
Employee of a Government Official, Other
Date of First Arrival in the US
Number of Years in the US
Usual Occupation
Present Occupation
Employer (or parent or guardian)
Employer's Address
Employer's type of business
Activities and/or membership in clubs, organizations, societies
Military Service: Country, Branch, Dates of Service
Date, Number, City, and State of Declaration of Intention
Date, City, and State of Filed Petition for Naturalization
Number of Relatives living in US (Parents, Spouse, Children)
Arrests (Date, Place, Disposition of Case)
Whether worked for a foreign government in past 5 years