Applicants for various immigration benefits including employment authorization documents (EADs), advance parole (AP), adjustment of status, and naturalization are required to appear at an in-person appointment at an Application Support Center (ASC) to provide biometrics. Biometrics include fingerprints and photographs.
On March 13, 2020, USCIS temporarily closed its ASCs and field offices across the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In June 2020, ASCs began re-opening in phases with updated policies allowing for social distancing and reduced occupancy. However, due to the closures in March, USCIS canceled approximately 280,000 biometrics appointments that must be rescheduled. There are also many initial biometrics appointments that need to be scheduled.
Because of the closures caused by COVID-19, there are significant delays in biometrics scheduling. Additional factors impact current processing times as well, including demand and capacity at individual ASCs. According to USCIS, there were approximately 1.3 million applicants still waiting for biometrics appointments in mid-December.
Additionally, USCIS is no longer able to process walk-ins for biometrics appointments because of COVID facility constraints. Walk-ins for biometrics appointments for military applicants and their family members when the principal applicant is scheduled for an appointment are the only exceptions.
In some circumstances, USCIS can reuse biometrics. If USCIS will reuse biometrics for a pending application, they will mail a Form I-797 notice to the applicant stating that they will reuse the applicant's biometrics and that the applicant is not required to appear at an ASC. However, not all applications meet the requirements for biometrics reuse.
USCIS recommended that before visiting any USCIS facility, applicants check the USCIS Office Closings page for information about the current operating status.
View more information about preparing for your biometrics appointment here.
Track the status of your case here.
This blog post does not serve as legal advice and does not establish any client-attorney privilege. Do not take any action based on the information contained in this post without consulting a qualified immigration attorney. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact our legal team directly.
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This information comes from news releases from the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA Doc. No. 20122905 & AILA Doc. No 21020332).