Preparing for a Biometrics Appointment

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) requires most immigrants filing an application, petition or request to provide identity confirmation and background checks through biometrics– fingerprints, a photograph and a signature. For immigrants residing in the United States, USCIS sends Form I-797C, Notice of Action with information on the date, time and the Application Support Center (ASC) location of the appointment.

USCIS officials are legally allowed to require and collect biometrics from any applicant, petitioner, sponsor, beneficiary or “other individual residing in the United States for any immigration and naturalization benefit.” Only those who are under age 14 are not required to provide a signature on an application, petition or other request filed with USCIS.

Those attending a biometrics appointment bring the Notice of Action and a valid photo identification—green card, passport, driver’s license or other government-issued ID. USCIS also includes specific instructions about any other materials needed at the appointment on the Notice of Action. Otherwise, make sure to review a copy of the completed application, petition or request before the ASC appointment as USCIS officials don’t provide these copies during appointment times.

A critical element of an immigrant’s review of information prior to attending an ASC appointment is that officials cannot change information on any form once the biometrics appointment is underway. Immigrants with a name change, for instance, should have already submitted legal documentation with the application. In cases where a name change or other biographic data occurred after submitting the USCIS filing, the agency requires an InfoPass appointment to set up a time to provide the agency with the updated information. USCIS also allows the submission of documentation through the “Other Evidence” channel of an immigrant’s online account.

One particularly important aspect of the biometrics appointment centers around an immigrant’s digital signature, “required to reaffirm the contents of your application, petition or request, even if you already signed the certification on the paper or electronic form,” according to USCIS information.  The signature confirms submitted paperwork as “complete, true and correct at the time of filing.”

Opting not to create a digital signature during an ASC appointment automatically denies any applications, petitions or requests submitted to USCIS. With no digital signature, background and security checks become impossible.

Also noteworthy is USCIS policy of using the on-file digital signature, photo and fingerprints in cases responding to new or replacement materials, which include Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card (Green Card) and Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. Replacement green cards and Employment Authorization Documents use the biometrics previously provided by immigrants.

USCIS never waives the signature requirement for anyone without a physical or mental disability that prevents the creation of a digital signature or other physical marks. The agency likewise makes no exceptions to the digital signature requirement “simply because you cannot write in English or your native language.”