What Is Biometric Screening?
Biometric screening is part of the USCIS‘s processes when a person is applying for a green card (permanent residence), naturalization, and asylum, among many other immigration processes and benefits.
Applicants usually receive an appointment notice (biometrics appointment notice) a few weeks to months before an application is processed. You will know the exact location, date, and time of your appointment. Biometric screening usually takes place at a USCIS office near you. Alternatively, screening can take place at listed Application Support Centers.
What to Expect During Biometric Screening?
Biometric screening is a simple straightforward process that involves collecting physiological and anatomical data which can be used to uniquely identify a person. The process involves the collection of fingerprints, a photo, and a signature.
After screening, your appointment notice will be stamped to confirm attendance. You should keep the document safely just in case the USCIS can’t find your records and needs proof you honored your appointment.
During screening, you are supposed to carry your appointment notice, photo ID, passport, driver’s license, or similar documentation. You should also carry a receipt notice showing the type of application processed and anything else the USCIS requests.
Since USCIS offices are federal buildings, avoid carrying things like beverages, food, pocket knives, or other items you wouldn’t be allowed to get in with. Expect to go through a body scan, metal detector, or other related security protocols.
If you are wondering how long a biometric screening appointment takes, typical processes take 15 minutes or so. However, plan for time taken to enter a federal building. Besides being subjected to scans, you’ll not be allowed to enter until it’s just about time for your appointment.
There are also repercussions of abandoning an application i.e., long delays that will slow down naturalization. What’s more, expect to find other people going for screening. However, since people are served on a first-come-first-serve basis, getting there ahead of time will help.
Rescheduling a Biometric Screening Appointment
What if you miss your appointment, can you reschedule? Yes! The USCIS gives instructions on how to reschedule. You can call the contact center and set up another appointment. It is advisable to be proactive and give a good cause for requesting a reschedule. Abandoning an appointment without notifying the USCIS decreases your chances of getting a green card, naturalization, or asylum as the entire process of seeking US citizenship favors individuals of good moral character.
Should I be Concerned About Privacy?
The USCIS uses the biometric data collected to verify your identity. The data is also used to create an ID document like a work permit or green card. The fingerprints are used by security services like the FBI to check for criminal/immigration records. Your data is protected and handled under strict controls and guidelines.
What’s more, not everyone is subjected to fingerprint checks. Individuals under 14 years old and those over 79 years don’t need to submit fingerprints. Other biometrics are, however, needed.
Will I Need to go For Screening Again?
It depends. Biometrics are only valid for 15 months. If your application hasn’t been finalized, you may be required to go for another screening appointment.