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For an individual who had no problems passing through the screening procedures, the amount of time spent on Ellis Island averaged two to five hours. Some twelve million immigrants entered the United States after passing through the facilities on Ellis Island. For those who had difficulties with some aspect of the immigration evaluation process, the time spent could become much longer.
Potential immigrants were expected to answer a list of twenty-nine questions concerning their name, work training, contacts already in the United States, and the amount of money they had with them. They were also given a screening physical, and many were denied entrance due to the discovery of infectious or chronic health conditions.
Ellis Island was designated as the first Federal immigration station in 1890 by President Benjamin Harrison. Prior to the commissioning of Ellis Island as a Federal Immigration Centre, immigration was regulated by individual states.
It took approximately three to five hours for individual inspection. The duration of inspection was based on the reliability of the immigrant’s papers, in case the documents were not in order, it would take much longer for the individual to be cleared. Inspections were conducted in the Registry Room by doctors who checked for physical ailments and medical conditions. The manifest log from the ship was also used to cross-examine the immigrants. This was because, it offered details of the individual as they embarked on the journey from the port of origin. The immigrant was asked to answer 29 questions before the journey, which would later form the basis of the primary inspection on arrival at Ellis Island.
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