Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The USCIS Biometrics Appointment

Four months after I sent off my I-485Green Card Application, as well as my applications for temporary travel and work permits, known as the I-131 Advance Parole (AP) and the I-765 Employment Authorization (EAD), I received a letter inviting me to attend a USCIS biometrics appointment. 

It was good news, as it meant that I was getting closer to obtaining my green card, but also a bit of a pain as it meant my wife taking time off work to drive me to the nearest USCIS office, which was an hour and a half away. There was a stark warning on the USCIS biometrics appointment letter warning me that my application would be considered abandoned if I missed the appointment, so we set off an hour and a half early, giving us plenty of time to find the USCIS center and also some leeway in case there were any unforeseen travel problems.

The biometrics appointment is pretty straightforward and essentially just about getting your photo, fingerprints, iris scans, etc. taken.  In my experience, it is essentially the same information as was collected from me at customs when I entered the US for visits (except this time I had paid the USCIS for the privilege).

We got to the USCIS office without problems.  After coming through security at the door, I was given a form to fill out and told to wait.  There were lots of people booked for the same time, so they gave people waiting numbers according to a first-come-first-served basis.  Like with the London Embassy, there were security restrictions on electronic devices, so my wife and I left our ipods etc in the car and took in some books to read.

I was only kept waiting for ten minutes, however, and then sent through to a backroom where a lady collected my biometrics.  One worrying thing that she pointed out, that I hadn’t realized, was that my USCIS biometrics appointment was only for my green card.  Normally, she told me, she processed two lots of biometrics for people in my situation, one for the green card application and one for the temporary travel and work permits.  She asked me if I had received any other letters and I told her no.  She explained that it was therefore possible that I might be invited to go for a second biometrics appointment at some point in the future. 

I was less than happy at the prospect of my wife having to take another day off work and both of us traveling to the USCIS office again.  Plus it could cause a delay in the process.  I tried to get some advice and information off the biometrics lady, regarding what I should I do, but she said that she was unable to tell me anything more  and I should just wait to be contacted by the USCIS (to be fair, I think she just had the task of collecting the biometrics and had no access to my files, or knowledge of my case).

Despite my wife having taken an entire day of work, the actual biometrics appointment only took about 25 minutes.  I was still thinking about what the biometrics lady had said when I got home.  Then I remembered that I had received another letter from the USCIS a couple of months earlier, telling me that they were transferring my green card application to California to speed it up (I live in Florida).  Taking into account what the lady at the biometrics had said, my guess was that the USCIS were maybe skipping the temporary work and travel applications and just focusing on sorting out my I-485 green card.  My guess would later turn out to be correct.

(I wasn’t too disappointed with this situation. Although my research had recommended putting in the I-131 Advance Parole (AP) and the I-765 Employment Authorization (EAD) applications in with the I-485 Green Card Application, basically because they are free to apply for if submitted this way, my research also suggested that the temporary work and travel permits usually take almost as long to process as the actual Green Card, so were of very limited practical value to me anyway.)


  1. thanks this is very helpful for me. I'm in Florida too and in the process of getting my ssn and aos. Question though, you have any idea if they really approve advanced parole petitions? Appreciate your response.


  2. I met my fiance and we applied for a fiance visa I was approved, now I am travelling to usa california on saturday 25 august , how many people are denied entry holding k1 visas? does anyone know? as far as I have researched everyone has been admitted .

    1. If you have a valid visa and the relevant documents, such as your passport, you should be admitted. It is unlikely that they are going to deny you entry without good reason?