A digital fingerprint is being scanned.

USCIS Biometrics Appointments: What You Need To Know

The love of family is like branches on a tree. Because no matter how far or how many divergent directions the branches may travel, the central taproot is family.

Many immigrants who strive to become permanent residents or naturalized citizens of the United States are doing so for the love of family. 

Green card holders, also known as non-citizen permanent residents who are legally allowed to reside and work in the United States, can petition and sponsor the immigrant applications of spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 and unmarried adult children who are over the age of 21. 

Naturalized citizens can petition and sponsor the immigration applications of anyone in their closest nuclear family, including parents, siblings, and married or unmarried children.

Unfortunately, because green card holders are not American citizens, their petition and sponsoring applications for a family can be de-prioritized and waitlisted. In other words, their family-based immigration requests cannot be prioritized over that of American citizens doing the same.

And once you become a naturalized citizen, you enjoy the legal rights and privileges of citizenship just as if you were born in the United States.  

No matter how much you love your family and strive for opportunities and a new life, you must go through a series of steps to legalize your status based on the immigration laws of the United States. There are different ways to obtain status here, whether it be through political asylum, a green card, a humanitarian visa like the U or T visa, and eventually, naturalization.  This list is not exhaustive and each option comes with different requirements. 

It’s why you should always consult with a good immigration law attorney whenever you are looking to fix your immigration status in the United States. Immigration law in any country, but especially in the United States, is predicated on following the rules, application processes and procedures, and bureaucracy.  

Unfortunately, if you are applying for a green card, naturalization, or political asylum, you should expect to encounter longer than usual wait times and backlogs now.

Due to the March 2020 outbreak of the Covid-19 virus and the recent rise of Monkeypox cases, the processing of immigrant and family-based immigrant applications has come to a virtual standstill.

Over 226,000 American visas are usually issued in the United States, but less than 66,000 family-based immigrant visas were issued in 2021.

The National Visa Center currently has a processing backlog of almost 450,000 immigrant visa applications and interviews. The NVC processed only 28,400 immigrant visa applications in May 2022.

We don’t tell you this information to discourage you, but only to inform you. Immigration law, rules, and application procedures are complicated and predicated on bureaucracy. You need to be prepared and should consult the help of a professional immigration attorney.

Even though the situation is daunting, you must always try your best for yourself and your family.  Getting in line now is worth it. 

For example, after you file your green card, naturalization, or political asylum application, you will automatically be scheduled to visit your local U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office for a biometrics appointment.

And you need to show up, even if there is a current processing backlog. If you don’t, your case will be abandoned and you will have to start over. You will also lose any filing fees you have paid for your application(s).  So, what do you need to know?

Contact the Abogada Ashley immigration law firm today if you need personalized and professional help with your immigration status.

Related: Adjustment Of Status: The Complete Guide

What is a Biometric Appointment?

woman sitting in a chair at a biometrics appointment

A biometric appointment is an appointment where immigration (USCIS) takes your fingerprints and photograph for the purpose of conducting various background checks on you.  

Why is this necessary?

The United States government wants to irrefutably confirm your identity, nationality, legal status, and eligibility to file an application and receive all the benefits that come with approval.

Your local USCIS office wants to make sure that you are who you say you are and that you don’t have a regional or international criminal record.

Your biometrics appointment is like a bureaucratic addition to your application and file documents. It is not an immigration application interview. 

The representative who takes your biometric data will not be able to answer any questions. They are there only to take your biometric data and then add it to your application. 

Your fingerprints will be scanned. You will be weighed and photographed. Any deterministic, identifying, anatomical, and physical features you have, like tattoos, birthmarks, physical disabilities, and so on, will be photographed and noted.

You will be asked to sign documentation signifying that you completed the biometrics appointment, and then that is that. 

Your biometrics data will be added to your application, potentially shared with the FBI, and included in a federal Alien Registration File database.

The process takes 20 minutes in most cases. 

However, keep in mind that your travel time to your local USCIS office could add a long time to your transit time. Additionally, you may wait in a long line with other applicants before you get your biometrics appointment.

Try not to miss your biometrics appointment. If you know you cannot attend your appointment, you have an option to request that it be rescheduled. This information is provided on your appointment notice.

How Do Digital Fingerprint Readers Work?

You can compare it to a smaller version of the scanner you may use at home to scan documents to put into your computer. 

You will place your fingers and perhaps your palm on a scanner plate. The digital fingerprint reader will take a scan and photo of your fingerprints and hand.

This data will be saved to your file. It will also be used in local and international criminal background checks.

How Long Does It Take for a Biometrics Appointment?

As previously mentioned, the average biometrics appointment will probably last less than 20 minutes.

However, you may need to add extra travel time to your journey if you live far from the USCIS office that scheduled your biometrics appointment.

And when you arrive, be patient. You will wait in line with every other applicant scheduled for the same biometrics appointment for that day.

What Are the Age Requirements

There is no age requirement. Immigrants of any age can be scheduled for a biometrics appointment.

If you are an immigrant applying for a child under 14, then your child’s biometrics appointment fee should be waived. This fee is taken into consideration with your application filing fee which you paid when your case was submitted to USCIS.

What to Expect During Your ASC Appointment

As previously mentioned, your biometrics appointment is just an appointment to collect your anatomical and identifying biological data. This data will be used to confirm your identity and conduct local and international background checks for criminal records.

Your photo will be taken. And your fingerprints will be scanned. 

You may be weighed and have any identifying physical features, like a tattoo or birthmark, photographed and cataloged.

You will be given a document with a stamp that acts as a receipt verifying that you attended your biometrics appointment when it is over.

The results of your biometrics appointment are valid for a year and a half. Why? Physical characteristics change as people age as does their criminal record, in some instances. 

You may be scheduled for further biometric appointments in the future, depending on your immigration status.  In some cases, USCIS will reuse your biometric information from a previous appointment when you are filing a new immigration application. USCIS will notify you if this is the case. 

What Should I Bring to My Biometrics Appointment?

Close-up of Businesswoman Outdoors Reading Documents

You should receive your biometrics appointment notice in writing a month or two beforehand. Make sure you bring that.

You should also bring your native passport, green card, or military-issued ID. If you have any other immigration receipt notices about your pending case, it wouldn’t hurt to bring them with you just in case.

How is All the Data Collected Used?

As we have mentioned, your biometrics data is used to confirm your identity and conduct local and international criminal background checks.

The USCIS wants to irrefutably confirm your identity before accepting and approving your application for a green card, naturalization, political asylum, or any other immigration status you are seeking.

Your biometrics data will be added to your application and file. It may also be added to a federal Alien Registration File database.

And depending on your immigrant status, your biometrics data could be shared with the FBI.

If you have a criminal record in your native country, you should consult with an immigration attorney before attending your biometrics appointment.

What is Next After the Biometrics Appointment?

You just have to continue waiting for your green card, naturalization, political asylum, or other visa application and any further interviews to be processed. 

Does Biometrics Mean Approval?


Your biometrics is additional data that will be added to your USCIS file and application. It is just one part of the bureaucratic process during your application review and processing.

Your USCIS biometrics appointment is not an interview, and it is not a sign of application approval.

How Long Does It Take to Get My Work Permit After Biometrics?

It could take anywhere between 9-12 months to get a work permit after attending your biometrics appointment, and depending on the basis that makes you eligible for a work permit.

However, these are just average waiting times that are subject to change at any time.

Can I Walk in Early for Biometrics?


Only go to your biometrics appointment on your scheduled date to appear.

If you walk in early, you may not be admitted, especially in this era of Covid-19 restrictions. 

If you are allowed to go in early, the worst-case scenario is that you will spend even more time waiting for your appointment.

How Long Does It Take to Have an Interview After a Biometrics Appointment?

It could take anywhere between several months and up to a year, in most cases, before you are scheduled for an interview after a biometrics appointment. Again, it depends on your case type and where you are living in the United States.

However, these are just average waiting times. Due to ongoing processing backlogs caused by COVID-19, it may take longer for your official USCIS or consular interview to be processed and scheduled.

How Much is the Fee for Biometrics?

The current fee for a biometrics appointment is $85.


woman checking mailbox

After My Biometrics Appointment, How Long Would It Take for My Green Card to Arrive?

It could take five months and up to a year to get your green card after your biometrics appointment. It depends on other factors (see above).

However, these are just average waiting times. Due to ongoing processing backlogs caused by COVID-19, it may take longer for your official USCIS or consular interview to be processed and scheduled.

What if I Missed My Biometrics Appointment?

You can call the USCIS and try to schedule another appointment. It is possible that your application will be denied for abandonment if you miss your biometric appointment.

Due to ongoing Covid-19 restrictions and general practices, you won’t be able to just walk into your local USCIS office and request a new appointment.

Try your best to go to your biometrics interview on your scheduled date. Even if you are granted another biometrics appointment, it could take months to reschedule. And it will definitely delay the processing of your application further. 

Why Did I Receive a Second Reminder for a Biometrics Appointment?

There are a few reasons why you got a second reminder for a biometrics appointment.

There may have been an issue with their equipment during your first appointment.

Additionally, biometric data expires after a year and three months. If your biometric data expires before your application is processed and an interview is scheduled, then you may need to come back for a second appointment.

Will My Family’s Biometrics Appointment Be at the Same Time as My Application?

Not necessarily.

Your local USCIS office will try to accommodate your family application by making an appointment for the entire family to appear. 

But you should not expect or assume that your entire family will get an appointment together.

Individual family members could be given separate dates for their biometrics appointment.

Consult with an immigration attorney before applying as a family to improve your chances.

If I Have a Criminal Record on File, What Should I Do?

We highly recommend consulting with an immigration attorney before appearing at your biometrics appointment.

Depending on your criminal record in your native country, or any geopolitical issues between the United States and your native country, you could be detained or processed for deportation.

Such outcomes are not likely but not impossible either.

Having a criminal record does not necessarily exempt you from applying for a green card, naturalization, political asylum, or another immigration status. It depends on what the record is for.  

But your criminal records should be documented in a bureaucratic manner that does not make them seem worse than it is, depending on the severity of your previous offense.  

What if the Fingerprint Reader Fails to Recognize My Digital Print?

Your fingerprints will be taken the outdated but traditional way. 

Your fingers will be rolled in ink and then pressed on a paper card that will be scanned later.

Do I Have to Bring My Child Under the Age of 14 to a Biometrics Appointment?


Do not ignore or disregard a USCIS notice to appear for a biometrics appointment, especially on behalf of your child.


Don’t endure your immigration application process or biometrics appointment alone.

There are so many laws, rules, and accommodations in immigration law that could apply to your situation and benefit you without you knowing it.

Consult the help of a professional immigration attorney today. Abogada Ashley is the best immigration law firm in San Diego that will give you the personalized attention you deserve. 

Contact us today to learn how we can help you with your immigration status.

Related: Everything You Need To Know About U Visa

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