A blog about U.S. immigration matters by Paul Szeto, a former INS attorney and an experienced immigration lawyer. We serve clients in all U.S. states and overseas countries. (All information is not legal advice and is subject to change without prior notice.)

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Saturday, September 5, 2020

Proposal to Overhaul the Immigration Biometrics System



Immigrants will have to provide more than their fingerprints very soon under a new plan of the Trump Administration.  The Department of Homeland Security will soon be publishing a proposal to change how biometrics are taken and used for immigration purposes.

Biometrics are an important step in applying for many immigration benefits. Typically sometime after receiving an application, USCIS schedules a time and place for the applicant to go to an application support center and have their fingerprints and picture taken. The captured information is then used in background checks.

The new proposal would allow the use of new collection methods through voice, iris, and facial recognition technology. 

The way biometrics information is used would also change significantly. Its use would expand beyond background checks and into processes such as identity verification and secure document production.

How exactly, and thus how it will affect applicants, is not yet known.  What is clear is that more of immigrants' biometric information and data will be collected by the government. 

For example, DNA tests will also be incorporated as part of the proposed change. They can be used as evidence to establish that a claimed genetic relationship exists or does not exist. For many years, DNA tests have already been used as scientific evidence in building cases such as family petitions, especially when there is sparse other evidence.  The proposal will likely expand their usage and application. 

From what has been announced so far, it seems like biometrics collection and use will be receiving practical upgrades through technology and improved administration processing. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking should be published soon, meaning more details will be accessible shortly.

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