Immigrating is not a cut-and-dried process. The application and interview process is extensive, not to mention how much of the process centers on scrutinizing your life and not knowing whether all your efforts will eventually end in a NOID (Notice of Intention to Deny).
Part of this elaborate process is a biometrics services appointment. This step is necessary to confirm a potential immigrant’s identity and perform background checks. You may be a bit wary of this part, considering you may stand in line for a while. However, the appointment itself usually doesn’t take longer than 30 minutes.
Also, the USCIS released a new strategic plan at the beginning of 2024. Their outlined goals prove how the USCIS online system is evolving for efficiency. This also means that in 2024, you probably won’t have to stand in line for too long. So, hopefully, you can get your overall application done a bit faster.
What Is a Biometrics Appointment?
The number one goal of the USCIS strategic plan is to strengthen the U.S. Immigration System. Biometrics forms a big part of achieving this goal. A biometrics appointment means electronically capturing your fingerprints, photograph, and signature to verify your identity. Biometrics appointments usually happen on a first-come, first-served basis because several people will have received the same appointment time as you.
If you have a criminal record, you must speak to an immigration lawyer before applying to immigrate. The lawyer will confirm whether your offense will make you ineligible for immigration.
Booking a Biometrics Appointment
Before you book a biometrics appointment, you must be aware of the process leading up to it. An immigration agency or consulate handling your case can book the biometrics appointment on your behalf. The specific steps may vary depending on your country and destination, so you must follow all the instructions provided by immigration authorities.
If you don’t pitch up for the appointment on the scheduled day, you can reschedule only after 24 hours. To avoid this unnecessary delay, plan ahead to ensure you can attend your appointment the first time.
If you must reschedule before your appointment date, you should do so via your USCIS online account. Your rescheduled date must be before the original appointment date. You will also need to give a valid reason for changing the date. If you don’t appear for your original appointment, they may decline your immigration application.
The Biometrics Appointment
Before and during the appointment, which will take place at your local Application Support Center (ASC), keep the following factors in mind:
- Arrival: Try to get to USCIS earlier on the appointed date to get ahead of the line. Be aware of unforeseen delays, such as system failures and staff shortages.
- Documentation: You must have all the required documents with you. These include your appointment letter, passport, and visa application. Bring any other documents if asked to do so by the immigration authorities. If you leave some of your papers at home or don’t have all the necessary documents, your application will be delayed. You will also have to reschedule your biometrics appointment.
Do not bring weapons, smartphones, cameras, or food with you. The center may ask you to leave if you do not adhere to these rules.
- Processing time: Barring the time you may spend waiting for those ahead of you to complete their appointments, your own appointment should take around 20 minutes.
If you require language help during your appointment, you should bring someone who can translate.
- Biometric data collection: When it’s your turn, you will undergo the process of biometric data collection, which includes:
- Scanning your fingerprints to create a digital record
- Having photographs taken of your face
- Recording a digital signature
Your biometrics appointment is mainly for data collection. There is no interview conducted at this stage. Compulsory interviews and additional assessments typically happen after the appointment.
You may need to pay a biometric fee when you submit your application. Check the fee requirements in your company and pay it in advance to avoid any issues during your appointment.
What Happens If You Get a Second Biometrics Appointment Notice?
If you receive a second notice to do another biometrics appointment, it doesn’t automatically mean your application is in danger of being denied. The most common reasons for having to repeat the biometrics step include the following:
– Your fingerprints may have smudged the first time around, or they may be unusable for some reason. If you have deep scars or other finger damage, your prints may be difficult to scan. Should this be the case, you’ll have to go to the ASC to try again.
– Biometrics and all associated background checks are only valid for 15 months. If the USCIS takes longer than that to process your immigration application, you need to do another round of biometrics.
– Human error may result in your first set of fingerprints, photographs, or electronic signature getting lost in the system. If the photos or signature are the problem, and the USCIS has an existing background check on you, they may waive a second set of fingerprints during your second appointment. To save time, they will use the first set and update the background check to match.
After the Biometrics Appointment
When your biometrics are complete, the center will use it to verify your identity. They will also include it in the security checks as part of your immigration application process. You will receive further instructions from the immigration authorities about the status of your application. They will also inform you of any additional steps you need to take.
Your biometrics appointment is a critical step in your immigration application. It also helps ensure the integrity and security of the immigration system. Follow the authorities’ guidelines and prepare yourself for the appointment to make the process much smoother and more efficient.
Also, remember that specific requirements will always vary by country, so consult the USCIS website or contact the relevant immigration office to get the most up-to-date information before you book your appointment.