In order for me to get Italian citizenship, I have to prove that my great grandfather never naturalized, or naturalized after his son (my grandfather) was born. In order to do this I have to go to Homeland Security (formerly INS) and get a certificate that says he was never naturalized. I have heard that to get this it takes months and months and Homeland Security will only search within a several year period. Does anyone have any advice in dealing with this agency? If I have my grandfather's birth date, would all I have to do is get Homeland Security to show that my great grandfather was not naturalized at this point? Any info would be great, thanks!
However, do you have any idea if he was naturalized at all? If you find him in the census, often it will indicate where he was an Alien, had applied for papers, or had finally attained citizenship. It will also narrow down the years between arrival and death where he was eligible for citizenship. A person had to be here a certain number of years before he could apply. Once the paperwork was filled out, he had to obtain the actual citizenship within 7 years or the process would have to be restarted. So looking for him in the census can help you determine what paperwork might be out there.
It would be difficult for any agency...even the old INS...to have to search over many years for a single individual. The information is probably not digitized and a person would have to go through many records over time to find out the information. Therefore, every bit of info you have...like social security number if applicable, history of where he lived and when, reference to census listings, etc...all this can narrow down the information and make the search easier...
But, I am afraid, it does not guarantee that it goes as fast as you wish!
You can conduct a search of U.S. naturalization records by visiting the website of the USCIS at http://uscis.gov/graphics/formsfee/forms/g-639.htm. You should download, print, fill out and mail document g-639 (Freedom of Information Act/Privacy Act Request). Read pages two and three for detailed instructions.
I did this for my grandfather. I received a letter stating that no record was found. Though the Italian consulates have different requirements. This is considered at least partial proof that your relative was not naturalized. They may also want to see census records.
You didn't provide any dates for the time your great grandfather entered the country. As others have pointed out census research will be a good start. Do to changes in federal law USCIS (was INS) has a copy of all declarations of intent and naturalizations performed after 1906. Before 1906 these records can be found in the federal, state or local court that provided the naturalization. If the great grandparent was still alive in 1940 USCIS would have a record of.
YOu can also contact the local NARA branch and request a copy of naturalization records.