Preparing for Your Biometric Services Appointment
Overview of the Biometrics Appointment
After you file your application, petition or request, USCIS will schedule your biometric services appointment at a local Application Support Center (ASC). Your appointment notice (Form I-797C, Notice of Action) will include the date, time and location for your ASC appointment.
As a federal agency, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) can legally collect all sorts of information about the people sponsoring and applying for U.S. citizenship, Green Cards (lawful permanent residency) and more.
Applicants and sponsors/petitioners provide most of this information on various forms. However, the agency is also authorized to request fingerprints and other material to document unique identifying characteristics (collectively known as biometrics) from such individuals.
Should I Be Concerned About This Appointment? How Is The Information Used?
There is no reason to be nervous, upset or alarmed about the biometrics appointment. This is a routine part of the application process in which USCIS takes your fingerprints, your photograph, and/or your signature so it can verify your identity, check for any significant criminal history and/or immigration violations, and create an ID card or any other relevant documents you may need.
Where Do I Go For The Appointment?
If you’re applying for a marriage-based Green Card when you are already in the United States, your biometrics appointment will be held at a local USCIS office a few weeks after you filed your application. On the other hand, if you’re applying for a Green Card while you’re in another country, your appointment will be held at the U.S. Consulate that is processing your application — most likely after your Green Card interview has been scheduled.
What Will Happen?
The biometrics appointment is not like a doctor’s appointment; there are no invasive procedures, so there’s usually no need to be anxious about a blood or DNA test at this point. However, when you appear for your appointment, USCIS will capture your fingerprints, photograph and/or signature with machines designed to collect these biometrics.
If you’re less than 14 years of age or over 79 years of age, your fingerprints won’t be taken, but USCIS may still schedule a biometrics services appointment for you so you can have your photograph taken.
For USCIS purposes, the information collected at your initial biometrics appointment is valid for only 15 months. This means you may have to go to more than one appointment if your case is pending for an extended period.
What Should I Bring?
One of the first forms you’ll get from USCIS after you’ve filed your marriage-based Green Card application is an official notification about your biometrics services appointment. It will include information about the time, date and location of your appointment, and what you should bring. This generally includes:
- A photo ID, such as your passport, Green Card or driver’s license
- Your ASC appointment notice (Form I-797C)
- Any other official letters, notices or receipts from USCIS
- Any other documents requested by USCIS on the official appointment notice (such as work permits or travel documents)
Do not bring any sort of weapons, and refrain from carrying food, electronic devices, or cameras into the fingerprinting area. Because you’ve already paid the required biometrics fee as part of your marriage-based green card application package, there’s no need to bring payment to your appointment.
How Long Does The Actual Appointment Take?
Because there is no interview at this time, the biometrics appointment is fairly short. In fact it should not take more than 15 or 20 minutes. However, you should not be surprised if there is a long wait before you are fingerprinted, have your photo taken and so forth.
Assistance During Your ASC Appointment
If you need help during your ASC appointment, you may bring someone with you, such as a family member, attorney, or accredited representative. If you do not understand spoken English, you should bring someone with you who can translate for you.
What If I Can’t Go To The Appointment?
USCIS will make allowances if compelling circumstances prevent you from going to your biometrics appointment as initially scheduled. In order to schedule another one, however, you must follow the instructions provided in the official USCIS notification regarding your appointment. It is also important to note that you cannot choose the date or time for the rescheduled appointment. Plan to attend the appointment anytime within three to eight weeks after USCIS gets your official request for a new one.
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