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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Monday, January 4, 2021

USCIS on Rescheduling COVID Biometrics Appointments


Are you still waiting for your fingerprinting appointment notice? Was your biometrics appointment canceled from between April and June due to the pandemic? Have you not heard from USCIS since then? Many applicants are in this same situation and are understandably worried about the state of their applications. 

Recently, USCIS made an announcement to address the delays of biometrics appointments. Many benefits applications such as I-539, I-485, I-765, and N-400 require a biometrics appointment. The unprecedented pandemic has caused cancellations and delays of these appointments at the Application Support Centers (ASC).  USCIS stated that ASC operations are now functioning at around 65% of pre-COVID levels. 

So how long can one expect to wait? There isn't a concrete answer, though a few factors are identified. Some benefit types, though not stated, are prioritized over others based on processing time and demand. USCIS states that they operate mostly on a first-in, first-out basis. This means within a category of application, biometrics rescheduling will be done in the order they were canceled. Other factors affecting wait time are capacity and demand of the relevant ASC.

Note that walk-ins for biometrics are not allowed (except for military) because of COVID-19 restrictions.

For applicants that have done biometrics for a past application, there is a chance that the biometrics can be reapplied and an ASC appointment is not needed. If USCIS decides to do this, they will send the applicant a courtesy I-797 Notice of Action. 

As of this month, USCIS states that there are still about 1.3 million applications awaiting a biometrics appointment.  Hence, though it may seem like your biometrics appointment has been forgotten by USCIS, it is most likely due to the delays that have unfortunately become the new norm.  Applicants should make plans accordingly in light of these delays. 

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