Many different types of applications with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services require you to verify your identity through the use of your fingerprints. When you file your application for a green card (adjustment of status), naturalization, or other U.S. immigration benefit, you may need to pay a certain fee for the USCIS biometrics appointment called the biometrics fee. It is $85 charge that you pay when you file. When you pay this fee, the next step will be for you to go to a biometric appointment.
While it sounds technical, it’s a fairly straightforward appointment. You can expect to spend 15 or 20 minutes at your appointment providing your fingerprints, signatures, and photos for identification purposes. Your biometric information will also be used to compare against FBI databases. This appointment will be scheduled for you, but there are ways to reschedule if you need to.
Getting Your Biometric Appointment Date And Time
When you file your application for the USCIS biometrics appointment — or if an attorney files it on your behalf — you will receive a notice from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services department. This is the Form I-797C, which you will receive in the mail. Keep this paper and bring it with you to your appointment.
This form will have your appointment location, date, and time. The biometric appointment will take place at an Application Support Center. There are many locations throughout the country, and the USCIS also has mobile biometric vehicles that can drive to various areas which don’t have other ASCs.
You should expect to get this notice in the mail between 3 to 8 weeks after you file your application.
After your appointment, the agent will stamp your Form I-797C as proof that you attended the appointment and provided your data. Keep this for your records, in case there is any administrative issue later down the line.
Rescheduling Your Biometric Appointment
While you’re encouraged to attend the appointment that’s assigned to you, it is possible to reschedule the USCIS biometrics appointment. You can do this through your USCIS online account, if you have one, or you can call the USCIS Contact Center at 1-800-375-5283. Make sure you have your USCIS account number ready.
You need to do this before your scheduled appointment. It is critical that you don’t miss your appointment without communicating with USCIS. If you do, your application may be considered abandoned, and it could be denied.
When you reschedule, you’ll need to provide some good cause for rescheduling the appointment. These reasons can include, but aren’t limited to:
- Transportation issues that prevent you from getting to your appointment
- Work or caregiving responsibilities that can’t be rearranged
- If you’re traveling away from your residence at that time of the appointment
- Major life events (weddings, graduations, etc)
- Being sick, hospitalized, or having a medical appointment
- Appointment notices that arrive too late for your to make arrangements
This is an important part of the path to citizenship, but the USCIS realizes that the appointment that they assign to you isn’t necessarily going to be workable for you. As long as you communicate beforehand and can provide good cause, you can find a time that works for you.
My Whole Family Got Biometric Appointment Notices, But They’re At Different Times
If you receive a notice for the USCIS biometrics appointment that is different from your family members’ appointments, it is possible for you all to go to the same appointment. Everyone needs to bring their notice and identification.
Please remember that it is up to the ASC whether or not to let the entire family have their appointments at the same time, likely depending on the busyness that day.
If your family members are not able to give their biometric data at that appointment, they need to keep their originally assigned appointment time or go through the steps to reschedule their appointment.
USCIS Biometric Appointments For Children
Children with applications at USCIS will need to give their biometric information, as well. However, only those over age 14 will need to provide a signature on the documents. Children who are ages 14 to 17 years old also need their legal guardian to sign their documents on their behalf.
How Your USCIS Biometric Appointment Will Go
Before you show up at your appointment, it’s critical that you set yourself up for success. Bring the following items with you:
- Your Form I-797C notifying you of your appointment time
- A valid photo identification with your photograph
- While it isn’t required, you should bring your copy of your completed application and receipt of payments
Generally, multiple people are signed up in the same appointment slot. This means you will likely have to be in a waiting area. Usually, those who are waiting are called in first-come, first-serve basis, so it wouldn’t hurt to show up a few minutes early. After you get called for your turn, it should only take about 15 to 20 minutes.
It isn’t necessary for your immigration attorney to come to your biometric appointment with you, even if they filed on your behalf. You also don’t need to bring your sponsor with you. However, if you need someone to translate for you, you can bring someone with you to make sure you understand all the information needed.
On the notice, you see one of three codes, which helps you and the person working your appointment know which data to collect.
- Code 1: Be prepared to give all 10 fingerprints.
- Code 2: Be prepared to give your index fingerprint, a photo, and a signature.
- Code 3: A combination of codes 1 and 2
Any fingerprints collected will be taken on a machine designed for this purpose. The machines can pick up fingerprints if your palms are sweaty, but they may have some issues if your hands are too dry. The person taking your fingerprints will likely have lotion for you to use.
The agent may try several methods to take your fingerprints if the initial scan doesn’t work. There are also alternate methods for taking your fingerprints if there is some issue with the machine.
You will not need to give blood or any other form of DNA at this appointment.
FAQs About Your USCIS Biometric Appointment
Can I Ask Questions About My Application At The Biometric Appointment?
It’s important to know that the person who takes your fingerprints, photograph, and signature will not have any details of your case. In fact, they may not even work for the USCIS. Instead, they may be a contractor who specializes only in taking this kind of information.
Will They Ask Me Any Questions At The Biometric Appointment?
This is not an interview. You don’t need to prepare anything ahead of time or worry that you’ll be asked any questions. Your sponsor doesn’t need to come with you. You’ll simply come in, give your biometric information, and head out.
What If I Am Called Back For A Second Biometric Appointment?
Don’t worry. There are two main reasons this happens. One reason is your fingerprints weren’t read properly by the machine, and you just need to rescan them. Another reason is your biometric appointment took place more than 15 months prior to the time your application was is up for approval. If that’s the case, you’ll need to go to another appointment since your original biometric information is considered expired.
Will My Biometric Appointment Show My Criminal Record?
While your information is run through national databases, having a criminal record doesn’t automatically disqualify you. You can still get a green card with certain criminal charges, but it is critical that you disclose them properly. When your biometric data is processed, it will pull up any criminal charges. Make sure you have documented any criminal charges earlier in your green card application.
Conclusion About Your Biometric Appointment
After you file your application for your green card, you will need to provide biometric information. Look for a Form I-797C in the mail approximately 5 to 8 weeks after you get notice that the USCIS has received your application.
The notice will have the date and time of your appointment, and you should try your best to go to that appointment. If that’s not possible, be sure to reschedule before your appointment date. If you don’t do this, the USCIS may consider your application abandoned and deny it.
At your appointment, bring your Form I-797C and a photo ID. Since other people may have the same appointment time as you, you’ll likely have a short wait time when you arrive. However, once you’re with the agent, your appointment will last between 15 to 20 minutes. This is not an interview, and the person who takes your biometric data will not have any knowledge of your immigration case.