USCIS Update On Biometrics Requirements
USCIS (U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services) issued a Stakeholder Message on December 29, 2020, with an update on biometrics requirements in response to the biometrics appointment cancellations, delays and rescheduling issues that people have experienced due to the COVID pandemic. During the pandemic, Application Support Centers (ASC) were temporarily closed or closed to the public for the safety of employees and the public. As a result of the ASC closings:
• nearly 300,000 ASC appointments were canceled between March and June while USCIS offices were temporarily closed to the public due to the coronavirus crisis
• ASCs operated at less than 50% of normal capacity from July to September
• since late October ASCs are operating at approximately 65% of pre-COVID levels
• USCIS is scheduling approximately 10,400 appointments per day, but there is a backlog of 1.3 million applications waiting for biometrics appointments
Priority of Biometric Appointments
USCIS reports that biometrics appointments are scheduled based on “the prioritization of benefit types, considering adjudication capacity and processing times. Within a benefit type, USCIS generally schedules appointments on a first-in, first-out basis. The wait time for appointments will vary geographically, based on capacity and varying demand at individual ASC locations.”
Reuse of Previous Biometrics
Not all applications meet USCIS requirements for biometrics reuse. USCIS has authorized the reuse of biometrics under limited circumstances, and usually where we must verify an individual’s identity and the case is otherwise ready to adjudicate. If USCIS will reuse biometrics for a pending application, we will mail a Form I-797 notice to the applicant stating that we will be reusing the applicant’s biometrics and that the applicant is not required to appear at an ASC.
ASCs cannot process walk-ins for biometrics collection with the exception of military applicants and their family members IF the principal applicant is scheduled for an appointment.
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