Attending your scheduled biometrics appointment with USCIS is an essential step towards successfully immigrating to the United States. This appointment, which you’ll be notified of via an ASC appointment notice, is crucial to the immigration process. In this article, we’ll explain the significance of biometrics in U.S. immigration, provide guidance on what documents to bring to your appointment, outline what to expect during and after the biometrics collection, and give a step-by-step overview of the entire process.
What Is Biometrics Appointment?
Biometrics Appointment is a part of the process conducted by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or the U.S. consulate for your immigration application. During this process, USCIS will record your fingerprints and take photos to confirm the identity, and eligibility of the person. And ensure that you don’t have any criminal records or any immigration violations.
USCIS officials have the legal authority to gather biometric information from anyone who applies, sponsors, benefits from, or resides in the United States for immigration and naturalization purposes. The only exception is for who are under the age of 14 are not required to sign any application, petition, or request submitted to USCIS.
Who Requires a Biometrics Appointment?
USCIS mandates a biometrics evaluation for a wide range of applicants, including those seeking green cards, work permits, or citizenship. Such applicants are highly likely to be summoned for a biometrics appointment. This applies especially to those who are:
- Naturalization applicants who applied the Form N-400
- For conditional green card holders who applied to remove their conditions, Form I-751
- Applicants adjusting their status or registering permanent residence, Form I-485
- Temporary protected status (TPS), Form I-821
- Many other types of applications.
Note: Beginning March 15, 2023, USCIS Removes Biometrics Requirement and $85 fee required for Form I-526E Petitioners.
Where to Attend Biometrics Appointment?
If you are applying from inside the U.S. by adjustment of status, you will take your biometrics appointment at the local USCIS office. The location will be close to your mentioned address in the application. Through this process, your biometrics appointment will have before the interview.
If you are applying from outside the U.S. by consular processing, you will take your biometrics appointment at the U.S. consulate or embassy. The location will be close to your mentioned address in the application. Applicants going through consular processing typically receive their biometrics appointment after the U.S. consulate has scheduled their immigration application interview.
It is advised by USCIS that you need to appear for your scheduled biometrics appointment at the designated Application Support Center (ASC). If the assigned ASC location is not convenient for you, can request a reschedule the appointment to an alternative ASC. The location will be changed on subject to USCIS approval. To find a list of available ASCs, kindly refer to the USCIS Service and Office Locator.
Biometrics Notice Codes
At the top right side of your biometrics appointment notice there will be a code. From the given code you find the type of biometrics processing. The code values and the indications are:
- Code 1 refers that your fingers will be scanned and collected for 10 digits. After that, USCIS will forward it to the FBI for background verification.
- Code 2 refers that ASC will take a photo of you, scan your index fingers, and record your signature
- Code 3 refers that ASC will take a photo of you, scan all your fingers for 10 digits, and record your signature. Note: Code 3 is a combination of code 1 and code 2.
How To Prepare For Biometrics Appointment?
The USCIS or the U.S. consulate that is processing your application will send your appointment notice (referred to as an ASC notice) for your biometrics appointment. Approximately, you will receive 5-8 weeks after you file your application. The notice will be sent to the mailing address that you provided in your application. The appointment notice will have information like who is required to attend the appointment, and only those individuals listed on the notice need to attend the biometrics appointment.
What to Bring To Biometrics Appointment
When you receive a notification for your biometric services appointment, the list of items that you need to bring will be mentioned along with the appointment. Apart from the appointment notice (Form I-797C), you must carry a government-issued photo identification. Each person must ensure to bring the below-mentioned documents to attend the biometrics appointment.
- Appointment Notice (Form I-797C): First you must bring your Application Support Center (ASC) a biometrics notice to your appointment. This document is most important for you to attend the biometrics appointment. In this notice you can find the information like date, time, and location of your appointment. Ensure you take the original notice that you received, as photocopies are not accepted.
- Government-Issued Photo Identification: You need to bring a valid government-issued photo identification, such as a passport, driver’s license, state-issued ID, Military ID, or national identification card. The identification should be current and not expired.
- Additional Documents: You must carry additional documents like employment authorization documents, travel permits, visa applications, or immigration forms. Depending on the reason for your appointment, you may be required to bring additional documents as USCIS requested.
- Medical Accommodations: If you need any special accommodations due to medical conditions or disability, make sure to bring the appropriate documentation to your appointment.
Review the appointment notice carefully to ensure that you have all the required documents. And before to the biometrics appointment check you carry all the required documents.
What Not to Bring To Biometrics Appointment
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), has prohibited certain items you should avoid bringing with you to biometrics appointments. The below-mentioned items are not allowed into the appointment for security or safety reasons:
- Weapons: Firearms, knives, or any other type of weapon is strictly prohibited.
- Electronic devices: Cell phones, laptops, tablets, and other electronic devices are not allowed.
- Food and drinks: Food and drinks are not allowed inside the building where the biometrics appointment will take place. This includes snacks, candy, and gum.
- Pets: Animals are not allowed inside the building, with the exception of service animals.
- Large bags or backpacks: Large bags or backpacks are not allowed inside the building. You should only bring a small bag or purse to carry your necessary documents.
- Hazardous materials: Chemicals, explosives, or any other hazardous materials are strictly prohibited.
If you bring all the items with you, you will be asked to leave them outside the building.
What Happens During Biometrics Appointment?
After your arrival at the scheduled local Application Support Center (ASC), an immigration officer will meet and welcomes you. The officer will get your biometrics appointment notice and photographs from you to ensure the person is same mentioned in the notice.
Once the officer verified your identity, you will be provided with the intake form. You have to provide your name, address and signature on the form. Ticket number will be provided by the officer once the form is completed. After ticket is issue, you need to wait for your turn.
When your turn is ready, a USCIS officer will call and make comfortable arrangements to take a photo. Once the photo is taken, through a computer with a LiveScan machine your fingerprints will be captured digitally.
How Long the Biometrics Appointment Takes Place?
The biometrics appointments will take nearly 15-20 minutes. At this time USCIS officer will take a photo and your digital signature.
Can I Reschedule My Biometrics Appointment?
Yes, in most cases, you can reschedule your biometrics appointment if you are unable to attend the originally scheduled date. You can find the process of reschedule the biometrics appointment in your appointment notice.
Steps Need to Follow For Reschedule Biometrics Appointment
- In your appointment notice check the box next to “Please reschedule my appointment.”
- Take a copy of appointment notice for your records and reference
- Send the marked original appointment notice through mail, to the ASC location specified by USCIS on the notice.
In general, if you need to reschedule your biometrics appointment, you should send a letter to USCIS. In that letter inform them of your unavailability on the original date and provide them with a few alternative dates when you will be available. No guarantee that you will get one of the suggested dates, it can be helpful for USCIS to have them as a guide. However, keep in mind that rescheduling your biometrics appointment will likely result in a delay in the processing of your application.
After your request to reschedule your biometrics appointment with USCIS, the Application Support Centers (ASC) will assign you a new appointment date within three to eight weeks of receiving your request. You will be notified of the new appointment date through a new appointment notice from USCIS.
However, if you delay your biometrics appointment for an extended period, it may result in a denial of your immigration application. Therefore, it is important to attend the rescheduled appointment to ensure the timely processing of your biometrics and background check.
Can I Arrive Early for My Biometrics Appointment?
Yes, you may arrive early for your biometrics appointment at the Application Support Center (ASC). However, please note that showing up excessively early may not necessarily expedite your appointment or grant you immediate service. Moreover, some ASCs may not have sufficient space to accommodate early arrivals. You must call your local ASC or U.S. Consulate to find out if they allow early arrival.
Since biometrics appointments may take some time, it’s advisable to consider arriving at the Application Support Center (ASC) during less busy periods to minimize your waiting time. By showing up during the slower morning and afternoon hours, you may avoid longer queues and get your appointment completed relatively quickly.
Therefore, it’s recommended that you arrive no earlier than 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment time to ensure a smooth and efficient experience.
What Happens If I Miss My Biometrics Appointment?
Failure to attend your biometrics appointment may result in USCIS processing your application without the necessary biometrics and other required documents. This may have a negative impact on your immigration application, as non-submission of biometrics can significantly delay your case or even result in denial.
If your immigration application is denied or rejected, the only option you have is to refile again by paying the fees. So while filing the application provide your address and make sure you receive biometrics appointment notice.
What Should I Do if I Have a Criminal Record?
If you have a criminal history, it’s advisable to get the help of an immigration lawyer when preparing your immigration application. An experienced immigration lawyer can provide valuable advice on how and where to disclose your criminal record on your application, increasing your chances of a successful outcome.
USCIS conducts a background check using your biometric data to verify that you have not omitted any prior criminal activities in your immigration application. By working with an immigration lawyer, you can ensure that you have accurately disclosed all relevant information about your criminal record in your application, which can help prevent any potential issues during the background check process.
What Happens After USCIS Biometrics Appointment?
Once your biometrics appointment get completes, USCIS officer will stamp your ASC appointment notice. That stamp in your Form I-797C is the proof that you have attended and completed biometrics appointment.
In rare cases, you will receive a biometrics notice for the second time after completing the first time. This is due to the smudging of your fingerprints which you provided the first time. No need to make the payment for the second time notice and appointment.
The duration it takes for USCIS or your U.S. consulate/embassy to contact you will vary depending on the type of application you submitted and the corresponding processing timeline.
At this point, you have understood completely the biometrics appointment working principles. Contact us today to learn more about our services and lawyer consultation on your biometrics appointment or any other application forms filing.