As part of applying for U.S. immigration benefits, you may be required to attend a biometrics appointment. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) uses biometric information to investigate any criminal history or immigration violations.
Biometrics refers to documentation of your fingerprints, photograph, and signature. The USCIS will send you a letter scheduling your biometrics appointment. While it may sound intimidating, it’s relatively straightforward. Knowing what to expect can ease your worries and ensure you’re fully prepared.
Who Must Attend a Biometrics Appointment?
Certain applications that you file with the USCIS will require you to go to a biometrics appointment. You will be required to attend a biometric appointment if you apply for:
- A work permit
- A green card
- U.S. citizenship
The USCIS will schedule a biometrics appointment for you at a local USCIS office after it receives your application. You will get a letter in the mail telling you when and where to go to your appointment.
What Happens at the Appointment?
You might have to wait in line if several appointments are scheduled on the same day. The process should otherwise be quick and simple. You can expect to record your fingerprints and signature. You will also have your photograph taken.
A USCIS officer will stamp your appointment letter, which confirms that you appeared at your appointment. Be sure to save your appointment letter—it’s your proof that you attended your biometrics appointment.
What Should I Bring to My Appointment?
To ensure your appointment goes smoothly, be punctual and prepared. You must bring your USCIS biometrics appointment notice (the letter you will have received in the mail). To prove your identity, you also need to bring a photo ID such as your:
- Driver’s license
- State ID
- Military ID
If you are renewing your green card (permanent resident card), be sure to bring your current card. If your green card has been lost or stolen, bring other evidence that proves your status as a green card holder.
What Should I Not Bring to My Appointment?
Cameras, cell phones, and other recording devices are not allowed in the USCIS offices. When you go to your USCIS Biometrics Appointment, leave your phone in your car or ask a friend to hang onto it while you attend your appointment.
How Long Does a Biometrics Appointment Take?
After verifying your identity and checking you in, a USCIS officer will lead you through the process of collecting your fingerprints, signature, and photograph. There may be a wait time but the actual biometrics appointment will be brief. The entire process only takes about 20 minutes.
What Should I Wear to My Biometrics Appointment?
You don’t have to wear anything specific to your appointment. However, you may want to dress nicely and be ready to have your photo taken. Business casual attire is encouraged.
Does a Biometrics Appointment Notice Mean Approval?
If you are asked to give your biometrics at a USCIS office, it does not necessarily mean that your immigration petition or green card renewal is approved. The biometrics appointment with USCIS is just one step of the application process. After your appointment, your biometrics will be used to assess your application.
Can I Reschedule My Biometrics Appointment?
If for any reason you find yourself unable to attend your biometrics appointment, you can reschedule your appointment. Call the USCIS Contact Center to request a new appointment time. Many offices can accommodate early walk-ins on the day of your appointment without having to reschedule.
When Will I Get a Response After Biometrics?
There isn’t a specific time frame for a response after your biometric appointment. It depends on the type of application and the USCIS office processing it. Some offices have a longer processing time due to staff shortages.
While many immigration application steps progress within weeks, your biometrics may take longer. You may have to wait anywhere from five to 10 months to get a response. You can check on the status of your case by visiting the USCIS case status online page and entering your 13-digit receipt number.
What Is the Next Step After Biometrics?
After your biometrics are submitted to USCIS, your information will be screened. The Department of Homeland Security uses the collected data to identify criminals and prevent them from receiving immigration benefits. A petitioner who has committed an aggravated felony is not eligible for permanent residency.
If something went wrong with your biometrics collection, such as smudged fingerprints, you may receive a second biometrics appointment with USCIS. After you have been vetted, your case will move on to the next step. If you are applying for a marriage green card, your next step will be the green card interview.