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What was required

THESE ARE JUST SOME of the documents that were required for my father to leave Germany and apply for a visa to the United States. Also essential--and impossible for many people--was the affidavit (sometimes two or three) from a U.S. citizen attesting that he or she would support the immigrant financially. My father began the application process in 1936 or 1937. It took more than a year for his number at the U.S. consulate to come up. The situation only became worse, much worse, after the Nazi brutality of Kristallnacht in November of 1938, when all German Jews wanted to leave.

The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum site, in its informative teaching materials on Jewish refugees from the German Reich, 1933-1939, lists all the items needed for applicants seeking an entry visa in the 1930s and 1940s -- more particularly applied to German Jews:
  • Visa Application (five copies)
  • Birth Certificate (two copies; quotas were assigned by country of birth)
  • The Quota Number must have been reached (This established the person's place on the waiting list to enter the United States.)
  • A Certificate of Good Conduct from German police authorities, including two copies respectively of the following:
    • Police dossier
    • Prison record
    • Military record
    • Other government records about the individual
  • Affidavits of Good Conduct (required after September 1940)
  • Proof that the applicant passed a Physical Examination at the U.S. Consulate
  • Proof of Permission To Leave Germany (imposed September 30, 1939)
  • Proof that the prospective immigrant had Booked Passage to the Western Hemisphere (required after September 1939)
  • Two Sponsors ("affiants"); close relatives of prospective immigrants were preferred. The sponsors must have been American citizens or have had permanent resident status, and they must have filled out an Affidavit of Support and Sponsorship (six copies notarized), as well as provided:
    • Certified copy of their most recent Federal tax return
    • Affidavit from a bank regarding their accounts
    • Affidavit from any other responsible person regarding other assets (an affidavit from the sponsor's employer or a statement of commercial rating)
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