Immigration BiometricsOne of the requirements that must be met to obtain a marriage-based green card is attending the biometrics appointment. What is it about? For starters, the word “biometrics” can scare you, but it’s just a technicality! It refers to the process by which the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) takes a picture from you and obtains your fingerprints. This data will be checked against the FBI data to rule out that you have a criminal record.

The biometrics appointment should be a simple and comfortable process for almost all people. However, to be more confident and relaxed, you should know the following:

What is the Biometrics Appointment?

The purpose of the biometrics appointment is to confirm that there is no significant criminal record or any violation of the immigration law by the applicant. Whoever is in the United States must appear for an appointment at a local USCIS office, in the early stages of the application process to obtain a Green Card. Conversely, applicants outside the United States must go to the biometrics appointment at the same U.S. consulate where they have applied for their residence card, usually after their interview for the residence card has been rescheduled.

It is a visit without any cumbersome process. In it, the fingerprints, photo, and signature of a green card holder’s spouse. This is done to compare the applicant’s fingerprints, photo and signature of the applicant with those of foreigners who have violated American Immigration Laws (for example, by entering illegally into the United States).

During the biometrics appointment for a marriage-based residence card, blood samples or DNA tests are not contemplated. In certain circumstances, the applicant will be asked for a DNA sample, especially if the visa application has to do with a consanguineous relationship (father/mother/son/brother) and there is any doubt about such relationship. If USCIS requests a DNA test, its objectives will be totally different from those of the biometrics appointment.

Although you may have to wait beforehand, the process takes between 15 and 20 minutes. In the biometrics appointment, you will not be asked questions, and the people in charge of obtaining your photo and fingerprints do not know anything about your request, so it makes no sense to ask for information. Those who take fingerprints are generally not USCIS workers, but work for contractor companies, and may not know the information relevant to your immigration process.

Getting ready for your biometrics appointment

One of the first steps you have to take after submitting the green card application is the biometrics appointment. It may be the case, even, that the notification of the initial appointment arrives without having received ratification from USCIS  that your request has been processed. However, reprogramming will usually take place between 5 and 8 weeks after the filing date.

During your preparation for the biometrics appointment there are some things to consider:

FIRST – it is only the spouse requesting the green card who has the obligation to go to the appointment; it’s not mandatory for the sponsoring spouse.

SECOND – don’t forget to have the following documentation with you:

  • The communication that USCIS sent you, specifying when and where the biometrics appointment will be.
  • Any other notification that USCIS has sent you.
  • Any identity document that contains your photograph, such as your passport or driver’s license.
  • Any other document required by USCIS in your appointment notice (usually work or travel permit documents previously issued).

It is strictly forbidden to carry weapons during the appointment, as well as bring cameras, food or electronic devices to the fingerprints area.

Payment of biometrics data ($85) must be made before the appointment, as part of the request for a marriage-based green card, so it should not be made on the date of the appointment.

Frequently asked questions

Q. Is it normal for me to be asked to go to the biometrics appointment a second time?

You could be summoned for the second time to the biometrics appointment, but this does not imply that you have committed any infraction, or that your request will be rejected. Here are two of the usual reasons why an applicant is asked to return to the biometrics appointment:

There was a stain on your fingerprints or they were rendered useless. If this or anything else that makes the provided fingerprints, photo or signature unusable, you must request the biometrics appointment again.

Your biometrics data expired before processing your request. The associated background check and biometrics are valid for 15 months. If for any reason, USCIS processed your marriage-based green card application in a time longer than 15 months, odds are you ‘ll need to go to another biometrics appointment.

Give the importance it deserves to the biometrics appointment: If you lose it without having rescheduled it in advance, your green card application will be denied by USCIS.

But if it is organized with enough time, the biometrics appointment becomes an expedited and trauma-free advance for your marriage-based green card application

Q. What happens if you have a criminal record?

If you have a criminal record, it would be a good idea to count with the legal assistance of a lawyer throughout the marriage-based green card application process. A legal professional will guarantee disclosure of your criminal record where appropriate in your application.

In the comparison of photos and fingerprints with the FBI database, the function of USCIS is to verify that applicants have disclosed their criminal records accurately, and not necessarily reject all green card applications to individuals with a criminal record.

Taking this into account, an applicant with some type of criminal record can be denied a marriage-based green card.  

Q. Can my biometrics appointment be rescheduled?

The biometrics appointment can be rescheduled, but it is not advisable to do so unless it is due to force majeure. And a second reprogramming may not be allowed. Moreover, reprogramming the biometrics appointment will not be a cause for rejection of your residence card.

If for any reason beyond your control, you cannot attend the appointment, it is possible to reschedule your biometrics appointment. In the same notice of the appointment, you can find out where to make such a request. Most commonly, reprogramming takes place between 3 and 8 weeks after the request is received.

Finally, it is not possible for you to choose the date and time of the rescheduling.

Contact an Immigration Attorney in California or North Carolina

If you need more information regarding the biometrics appointment or if you need help with any issue related to immigration laws, please contact us.