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When applying for a green card, naturalization, or another type of U.S. immigration benefit, applicants should also be prepared to undergo something similar to an intensive background check called a "biometrics appointment". Biometrics is data that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) collects.

Where is the Appointment?

The appointment will most likely be held at a USCIS Application Support Center. This is not the same as a USCIS office where you may have other interviews regarding your application.

It is important to note that the people collecting your biometric information do not have access to your immigration application file and cannot provide information about the status of your application request.

What Should I Bring to the Appointment?

If you have an immigration attorney working on your case, they do not need to come with you to your biometrics appointment. You should receive a notice of what you need to bring to your biometrics appointment. However, it’s good to get the following items prepared:

  • Your appointment notice (which is Form I-797C): If you received more than one notice, you should bring all notices with you to the appointment.
  • Valid picture identification: This is critical to confirm your identity. Your picture ID can be a Green Card, passport, or driver’s license, for example. It is crucial that your identification was issued by an authorized government agency and has your picture on it.

USCIS suggests that prior to the appointment, you make printed copies of your completed applications for your records and to review the documentation before coming to the biometrics appointment.

What Happens At the Biometrics Appointment?

The biometrics appointment itself is fairly quick — in fact, you may be stuck in a waiting room longer than the actual appointment. When you arrive at the USCIS Application Support Center, you will be asked to take a number or sign in, that way officials can call on people on a first-come, first-served basis.

Once you are called upon and go back with an agent, your fingerprints will be collected on a machine and your picture will be taken. If an applicant is under the age of 14 or over the age of 79, they will most likely not need to have their fingerprints scanned but will still need to attend the appointment to have their picture taken.

The agent will then ask you to provide a digital signature acknowledging that the information on your application is correct and true at the time of filing and if it’s not, you could be under penalty of perjury.

Following that, the agent will give you a stamp on your appointment letter confirming that you attended the appointment. Once stamped, make sure to keep the document in a safe place as USCIS cannot duplicate this record if you misplace it.

What if I Can’t Make My Biometrics Appointment?

Biometrics appointments can be rescheduled. However, it’s important to note that if you reschedule your appointment, this could delay your application being processed.

If you need to reschedule your appointment, use the contact information provided on your appointment notice. Prior to COVID-19, all requests had to be submitted in writing but now appointments can usually be rescheduled by calling the USCIS Contact Center.

Why is Biometric Information Collected?

USCIS collects this information to verify that the information on your application truly traces back to you. During the appointment, the picture that is taken is typically used for your future identification documentation. The FBI will use your fingerprints to run security checks and look into your criminal record if you have one. It’s important not to lie about any past criminal charges as that could lead someone to become ineligible for immigration benefits and potentially deportation.

When to Contact an Immigration Attorney

While we shared that an attorney doesn’t need to be present for a biometrics appointment, it’s beneficial to have an immigration attorney by your side as you go through the application process for any immigration documents. That’s where Arnaout Immigration Law Firm can help. Our experienced team of attorneys has helped thousands with the immigration process and we’re here to help you too. Contact our team today to get started — (818) 276-9900.