As most of you know, Biometrics is required as part of the New I-539 form and you need to visit Application Support Center (ASC) for the same. Before COVID-19, it was a very straightforward process, but since COVID-19, USCIS has given many updates that also includes changes to process on how they handle Biometrics. As this is new, many are not sure, how it all works at ASC and if it safe. One our readers, Gopal visited ASC last month for giving Biometrics. He was kind enough to share all the details. Thanks a lot to him for taking time to write up and share the experience. You can email as well to [email protected]
Background of my case :
My spouse applied for H1B Extension in June 2020, I applied for H4 Visa Extension along with it at Vermont Service Center. We received the Biometrics appointment notice two weeks after we submitted H1B+H4.
Biometrics Appointment Notice Details
We received the biometrics appointment letters by mail/post to visit Application Support Center (ASC). Our actual appointment date was on 23rd July and time was 11:00 AM at Elizabeth, NJ.
The appointment notice that arrives in mail has three pages
- Page 1 : The actual Biometrics Notice
- Page 2: COVID-19 related instructions
- Page 3: Application Information Worksheet
Below are the details of the each of the these pages.
Biometrics Appointment Notice Sample – Stamped
Below is the copy of our Biometrics Appointment notice that we got and that was stamped at ASC.
Instructions at ASC related to COVID-19
Below are the key instructions as per USCIS appointment notice on Page 2 that are related to COVID-19.
- No walk-ins for general users, only appear on your scheduled date and time.
- Only military members will be allowed for walk-ins.
- Do not arrive more than 15 minutes before your appointment
- Complete Application Information Worksheet before and bring it to ASC
- On the day of appointment, check the status of the office on USCIS website to be sure.
- You need to wear Face covering/mask. USCIS can deny entry, if you do not have face covering.
- No additional individuals or family members will be allowed with you, except interpreters or attorneys. They also need to wear masks.
- You need to follow social distancing guidelines when you are at ASC and stand apart.
Below is the copy of the instructions on Page 2
Application Information Worksheet (AIW) Sample
The AIW info on page 3 is standard like what you would get at the ASC, just that they mail it before hand to you. Check the sample below. You can read how to complete Application Information Worksheet, if you need more info.
Driving to Application Support Center (ASC) Location
The application center was 45 mins drive from my place and we were 4 people ( me, my spouse, kids ) travelling to the center. We hired a 7 seater cab to avoid sitting beside the driver seat. The cab driver ensured the cab was sanitized before drive. The driver was wearing mask throughout. We had instructed kids to do minimum talking only if necessary and no water /snacks till we return back, though we packed both.
As per the appointment letter we were asked to report at the ASC office 15 mins early. Being extra cautious and to make up for the traffic delays, as it was a week day, we planned to reach there 30 mins early. Note : Do NOT reach too early to ASC location as there is no place for sitting and to avoid exposure.
Procedure at ASC Location for Biometrics
We were at the ASC door at 10:35 AM (10 mins early). A person, who works at ASC (in mask) walked out and asked us to wait at an yellow line drawn outside beside the door for 10 mins as our reporting time was 10:45. There were quite a few people standing near the office mostly waiting for their relatives/friends who were inside.(not all were wearing mask but distance maintained. This is the area, we should be very careful as not all very cautious about pandemic). After exactly 10 mins the same guy came with a writing and asked a few COVID-19 related declarative questions like if I was infected or have met any infected person etc. very basic ones and I was let inside.
Verifying Documents at ASC
The inside was completely sealed, the person verifying my documents was in a glass cubicle with mask and gloves. I could see him changing the gloves after he checked my documents. There were nobody else apart from me and the officials inside till all my docs got verified. Mask is a must. When you are inside, you will be asked to just remove the mask when they verify passport photo. A token number was given, then I entered the hall where people were waiting for biometrics to be taken. This time there were nobody, except for me… mostly they were letting one person at a time.
Giving Biometrics at ASC
The lady who called me for biometrics was in disposable surgical gown wearing mask and gloves. There was an isolation glass separator also from where I gave biometrics . They have kept a lot of hand sanitizers every corner and they ask to sanitize hands, and the lady who helped in taking fingerprints also kept changing gloves. They also take the AIW sheet and give it back after entering details. I was done with the whole process in less than 15 mins. It seemed completely safe and they took utmost care about sanitization.
Tips from my Experience
- Try to be right on time, just 15 mins early not more than that so that you can avoid the wait time.
- There is no queue at times. If you don’t find queue then you can just knock the door and let the officials know that you have arrived and outside.
- Please carry snacks and water
- I found ASC was managed very well to provide healthy environment so don’t worry.