Are you an H4 Visa holder? If that’s the case, then you have to give biometrics for your Change of Status and extension application with USCIS. This is mandatory since the Biometrics Process for I-539 form has been introduced. What exactly are the H4 biometrics, though? Read this article and find out.
You need to go through a Biometrics appointment if you are applying for naturalization, green card or other immigration benefits for the U.S. You will be basically required by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to go through this process, and submit a fee for the biometrics. After you pay for the service, you will have to go to the appointment. This will take place in a matter of weeks after you go to the interview that helps decide on your application.
The appointment will take place at an authorized “Application Support Center” at the USCIS. It all depends on the area where you live, so make sure you use the USCIS site to look for an office. Usually, before your biometrics appointment, the USCIS will let you know what to bring with you through a notice. More often than not, you will be asked to bring a photo identification and a copy of your appointment notice.
Keep in mind, though – there will be things that you are not allowed to bring with you. For instance, you cannot bring a camera, food, drinks or your phone inside the building. A certain time will be scheduled for the appointment, but if you cannot make it that particular day, then you can reschedule it.
What’s also cool is that if you go to an ASC that is less busy, then they may take you in earlier if you arrive one hour early. You should never show up later than your scheduled time, though. Still, in some situations, if you are late due to an emergency, you can ask to be taken in immediately.
Biometrics appointments are necessary for anyone who submits applications for immigration benefits such as green cards, naturalization, or anything of the sort. It is also an appointment that needs to be attended by people who own a green card but need to apply for a renewal after the card’s expiration.
When you need to attend an H4 biometrics appointment, there are certain documents that you will have to bring with you. One of them is the biometric appointment notice, aka Form I-797C, and valid photo identification. This could be your passport, green card, state ID card, or U.S. driver’s license.
When you fill the H4 extension form I539, you will not have to file a separate USCIS biometrics form. What happens is that there is an appointment automatically created for you. Form I-797C will include multiple details about the Application Support Center you will have to attend, such as the time, location, and date.
When you go to the H4 biometrics appointment, there is a process that you will have to go through. Here, you will have your biometrics taken – this refers to physiological or anatomical data that allows a person to be identified.
As such, your photo, fingerprints, and signature will be taken at the appointment with USCIS. It will not take too long – only 20 minutes will be spent dealing with the process, but you may have to wait for a bit after you get there. Basically, it’s possible for other people to have received the same appointment date and hour that you did. In this case, everyone is going to be called inside on a first-come, first-served basis.
When you arrive at the center, you will receive a number that shows what your place is in line. In other situations, you may have to fill out a form that will inform the ASC employees about your presence. When it’s your turn, they will call your wait-list number or just your name.
Once the biometrics appointment concludes, your appointment notice will get a stamp on it, which will serve as confirmation that you attended the appointment. You should know that the document has to be kept in a safe place, because you may need it later. USCIS might either not find any record stating that you attended the appointment, or you may just be asked for it.
After your data is taken, fingerprints are going to be sent to the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for review. They are going to check them against records held by USCIS and the police. This process has to be done because there are cases when the USCIS takes fingerprints of people who crossed the border illegally. After checking this, the FBI will send a report to USCIS, which confirms your identity and whether you violated any immigration laws or did any crimes before. If you committed any, you will not be admissible, and you might be deported.
One thing to keep in mind is that if you have any questions about your case, you shouldn’t ask them when you go to the interview. People who are responsible for collecting biometrics cannot check your file, and cannot offer you any information or advice about your case.
Visa holders were required to give biometrics after this entire process has been introduced. But ever since COVID-19 started spreading, all USCIS offices and the ASCs were closed. Consequently, nobody was able to give biometrics.
The USCIS said they could use the old biometrics in the case of someone who was given the same ones in the past.
If they are going to reuse your old biometrics, then you will receive a certain online status with a notice like “Case Was Updated to Show Fingerprints Were Taken I-539”. The test that you will see is like this:
“As of XXXXX, 2020, fingerprints relating to your Form I-539, Application To Extend/ Change Nonimmigrant Status, Receipt Number XXXXXX have been applied to your case. If you move, go to uscis.gov/addresschange to give us your new mailing address.”
If your biometrics will be reused for the H4 application, then you will receive an I-797A Notice of Action with a certain text.
“… USCIS is able to reuse your previously captured fingerprints and other biometrics. USCIS will run the same security checks and use your biometric data as in the past. However, it is not necessary for you to appear at a USCIS Application
Support Center (ASC) for a biometrics appointment. The Biometrics fee will not be refunded…”
Your biometrics are required if you are looking to obtain specific immigration benefits, but it’s important to know what you need for the biometrics process. Moreover, you must know what will happen if you need your biometrics taken during the COVID-19 pandemic. Make sure to check your USCIS online status, or if you received any notice. Hopefully, you will be able to go through everything smoothly.