Biometrics Appointment Experience at ASC during COVID-19

USCIS Biometrics Appointment Experience at ASC during COVID

In H4 Visa by KumarUpdated : 22 Comments

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.

USCIS Biometrics Appointment Notice Sample to visit ASC
USCIS Biometrics Notice 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

Biometrics Instructions
Instructions by USCIS for Biometrics Process with COVID-19

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.

Applicant Information Worksheet after COVID-19 Sample
Applicant’s Information Worksheet

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.
   

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Comments ( 22 )

  1. Fidel

    How long after an H-4 extension status of “Fingerprint fee was received” do we typically get the appointment notice? I understand the biometrics appointment is generally 2 weeks after notice is sent?

    My H-1B was approved in regular processing this week and the H-4 “Fingerprint fee was received” status at Vermont was on August 12. Just trying to put together a timeline of what to expect.

    Also, H-4 EAD was filed around August 19, so I’m kinda unsure on when that gets processed as well.

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Fidel,
      There is no fixed pattern. Some have been lucky, some are unlucky. Yes, usually it is 2 weeks. You can check the https://h1bgrader.com/uscis-processing-times/h4-visa to get an idea of current processing times.

  2. Fedotov

    Hi!
    So, the first-time H4 change of status petitions for my spouse and daughter were filed along with my H1B at Vermont Service Center, received on April 21st. My H1B is now approved under premium processing, however the H4 cases are still pending and we have received no biometrics appointments yet. The law firm (BAL) seems to be ignoring the dependents’ case since my H1B was approved.

    Is there anything we could do about it? Is it worth calling USCIS, or since we’re not the employer or law firm they won’t assist us? Can we come to ASC and ask for a walk-in? The closest one to us is in Boston (Revere).
    I realize that my family won’t be out-of-status since the case is pending (we’re on cap-gap provision right now), but still it’s worrisome.

    Any advice? Could USCIS have lost the biometrics appointment or forgot to send it? Will the case status change online once they schedule biometrics?
    I know it’s a lot, but maybe someone Boston-based is in the same shoes now?

    Thank you!

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Fedotov,
      There is not much you can do. Your spouse and kids are in period of authorized stay, so you are fine.
      You can try to call them and check, if they have sent the biometrics notice. This year many are still waiting for them. Do update how it goes.

  3. athiS

    Hi, I have applied for my H4 COS and EAD in Aug,20 and received receipt. Is there any chance I can change the “effective date” of H4 when i go for biometrics? I had applied it with an past date and now my H1 is approved and so I want to change it for a future date.

  4. Harshal Joshi

    I have a question, we have filed for H1+H4+H4EAD extension at Texas Service Center on May 6, 2020. We are still waiting for H4 and H4EAD extension. We haven’t received letter for Biometrics , we filed our last extension in 2019 and my wife had biometric done in July 2019 at ASC.

    Do you think we have to do biometrics again? Anyone have come across similar situation?

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Harshal,
      Many have got the notices for biometrics, since ASCs are open now….But, we do not know for sure, if they will send or re-use old ones.

  5. Nikhitha

    Hi kumar
    I need your suggestions in this scenario

    Filed H1 to H4 COS in May 2020

    In June Spouse 140 approved

    Spouse H1 valid till sep30

    Biometric completed on july 14 (45 days ago)…H4 still in progress

    Spouse Is filing Extension now ..We filing H4 and Ead in normal processing now…including the previous biometrics completed sheet from ASC

    Heard about some tricks people used and were successful in getting H4 and EAD approved

    Want to move the H1 to premium processing once the
    Biometric get applied to my new H4

    What’s the best time to move to premium To get the Ead approved

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Nikhitha,
      You can try the same trick. But, only handful of people were lucky, so do not keep too much hope on it. There is no silver bullet….

  6. Rohan

    This article is helpful, thanks!

    In my Spouse’s case, on Aug 14th we spoke to a tier 2 officer and he said that H4 biometric appointment was set up for Sept 2nd and sent us an email with the 3 page appointment notice. But till today, we haven’t received any appointment notice by mail, so is it fine for us to take the email attachment to ASC center next week, in case we don’t receive the notice in physical mail by then?

        1. Raj

          Thank for the update Rohan. We are also on the same boat. We applied H1B+H4+H4EAD by the end of April, Vermont center. H1B is approved but for H4 + H4EAD status says, case is still pending.

          Each time we call, they just say they will send an email for expediting the process but the requests get denied.

          Can you tell me what exactly you talked with the tier 2 officer.Your suggestion is really helpful, Thanks.

          1. Rohan

            We spoke to tier 1 agent, then requested to speak tier 2 agent. The wait times was long, but had an option of call back and the same day evening Tier 2 agent called back.

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Rohan,
      Well, I do not know, if that would work or not. If you are close to an ASC, you can give it a shot. You can call them again.

  7. Raj

    Hi,

    Thanks for the information. I just want to know the procedure to fast tracking the H4 ead process. I have applied in the month of april but still not received any biometrics appointment. Just wondering how the june-july applications are moving faster? Do we need to do anything else to expedite ?

    Thanks

  8. Fedotov

    Very helpful!
    What is the time frame between receiving the biometrics notice and an actual appointment? You said you applied in June and the appointment date was late July?

    I just had my H1B approved after RFE under premium processing and we might be in need to travel (within the US) in two weeks.
    I wonder if it is possible to reschedule if the appointment is scheduled to a day we’re out of town/state?

    Thank you!

    1. administrator
      Kumar

      Fedotov,
      It was approximately two weeks as per user. This is standard practice after COVID-19 and before too.
      You can always re-schedule the appointment.

  9. Rakesh W

    Thanks for your information. Very helpful.

    I was curious when did you submit your extension? How long is it between your submission date and the actual appointment date?

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