Last updated on: 1/30/2017 | Author:

June 29, 1906 – Naturalization Act Creates Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization

“On June 27, 1906, Congress passed an act (34 Stat. 596) that expanded
the existing Immigration Bureau to the Bureau of Immigration and
Naturalization and put it in charge of ‘all matters concerning the
naturalization of aliens.’ Although the new Bureau was part of the
Department of Labor and Commerce initially, and part of the Department
of Labor from 1913 to 1940, most of its operations were directed by the
Department of Justice, and, in 1940, the Bureau was made part of the
Justice Department. Under the act of 1906, every petition for
naturalization became a case for examination by Bureau officials.

This act also established the basic procedure for naturalization
during the period 1906-52. The procedure began with the filing of a
declaration of intention, which recorded the applicant’s oath to the
clerk of the court that it was his or her bona fide intention to become a
citizen of the United States, to reside permanently therein, and to
renounce all allegiances to other nations. Within a period of 2 to 7
years after filing the declaration, the applicant could petition the
court for citizenship, presenting at this time the affidavits of two
witnesses with personal knowledge of the applicant, stating that the
applicant had resided in the United States for at least 5 years and
possessed a good moral character. The petition then became the subject
of an investigation and hearing before a judge. Officials of the Bureau
conducted preliminary examinations and submitted findings and
recommendations to the court. The hearing before a judge was the last
step in the procedure, provided the judge found the findings and
recommendation of naturalization officials favorable and satisfactory.
If so, the applicant would take an oath of allegiance to the U.S.
Constitution and laws and renounce all foreign allegiances, and the
judge would issue an order of admission to citizenship and grant the
applicant a certificate of citizenship. However, a judge could also
order a continuance of the investigation or deny the petition, listing
the reasons for the denial. A major change in this procedure occurred in
1952, when the filing of the declaration of intention was eliminated.”