Tag Archives: biometrics

USCIS to Require COVID-19 Vaccine for Refugee and Immigrant Applicants

USCIS to Require COVID-19 Vaccine for Refugee and Immigrant Applicants

The CDC, together with USCIS, will require COVID-19 vaccinations for refugee and immigrant applicants starting on October 1, 2021. The Department of Health & Human Services issued an alert for physicians to note the designation of COVID-19 as a Class A Inadmissible Condition. The alert stated that the U.S. Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices (ACIP) has now recommended the vaccination for the general U.S. population and therefore it now meets the vaccination criteria for refugee or immigrant applicants.

The notice also advises:

  • If a COVID-19 vaccine listed for emergency use by the World Health Organization (WHO) or licensed or authorized for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is available to the applicant in the country where the medical examination is conducted, the eligible applicant must complete the COVID-19 vaccine series.
  • Applicants who are too young to receive the vaccine, have a medical contraindication to the vaccine, or who do not have access to one of the approved COVID-19 vaccines in their country will not be required to receive the vaccine.
  • Individuals may apply for an individual waiver based on religious or moral convictions with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
    (USCIS).

Question: I’ve already taken my medical exam and sent it to USCIS, but my I-485 is still pending. Will I have to get another exam? 

The alert states that this policy goes into effect for individuals receiving their medical examinations from a Civil Surgeon or Panel Physician on or after October 1, 2021. Medical exams that are completed prior to this date are not required to demonstrate proof of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

Question: I need to provide updated medicals but USCIS hasn’t issued an RFE yet or my priority date is not yet current. Should I get the vaccine? 

Whether you are choosing to interfile your medicals or wait for an RFE, you may want to consider getting the vaccine so that both doses (if applicable) can be completed by the time your priority date is current or when USCIS requests medicals in an RFE. You should check with your healthcare provider before taking or refraining from taking any medical actions.

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What to Expect at Your USCIS Biometrics Appointment

Many applications, petitions, or other requests for immigration benefits require USCIS to collect biometrics to verify your identity. If you miss your scheduled biometrics services appointment, your case could be denied by USCIS so it is important to be prepared for the appointment or to reschedule if you are unable to make the scheduled time on your Form I-797C, Notice of Action.

Your appointment notice will include the date, time, and location for the biometrics services appointment at a local Application Support Center (ASC). You will be required to provide your fingerprints, photograph, and/or signature. This is not an interview for any immigration benefit; just a verification of your identity.

What should I bring to my ASC appointment?

You should bring your original appointment notice, as well as your valid photo identification (such as driver’s license, passport, and/or green card). USCIS also suggests saving or printing a copy of your completed application, petition, or request for your records.

Note: Current COVID-19 protocols require that you also bring a blue or black ink pen to your appointment.

What will happen at my ASC appointment?

USCIS will collect your biometrics, or fingerprints, on specialized machines. The process is fast and does not require any ink and paper (unless the machine malfunctions). The office will also take a photo and may ask you to sign affirming your information is correct. USCIS uses your biometrics information to verify your identity and search the FBI database in order to check for criminal records or other violations.

USCIS will not collect blood samples, DNA information, or subject you to any medical tests at a biometrics appointment.

Why does USCIS require a signature again?

For some forms, a digital signature is required to reaffirm the contents of your application, petition, or request, even if you already signed on paper or electronically. By signing, you reaffirm that all submitted materials of yourself (and dependents, if applicable), are complete, true, and correct at the time of filing.

If you are over the age of 14, you must provide a signature. Children under the age of 14 are not required to sign, but they may choose to sign their name if they are capable. A parent or legal guardian may also sign the application, petition, or request on the child’s behalf.

I can’t make my appointment. How do I reschedule?

USCIS requires that you have “good cause” to reschedule your appointment. Be prepared with your explanation when you call USCIS to reschedule.

  • To reschedule your appointment, call the USCIS Contact Center at 800-375-5283 (TTY 800-767-1833). To reschedule your appointment with an asylum office, please follow the instructions in your interview notice.

USCIS states that if you fail to call before your scheduled appointment or fail to establish good cause for the request, USCIS may not reschedule your ASC appointment. If you do not appear for your original appointment, USCIS will “consider your application, petition, or request abandoned and, as a result, it may be denied.”

USCIS does offer mobile biometrics or homebound appointments in limited circumstances if you have a serious ongoing medical condition and cannot leave your home or hospital. Check your biometrics appointment notice for more details on these services.

I’m feeling a little under the weather, but I’ve been waiting for a long time for my biometrics appointment. Is it okay if I still attend?

While routine services have been resumed at USCIS, the agency still has COVID-19 safety protocols in place. USCIS states that you should not visit a USCIS office if you are sick or start to feel symptoms of being sick. This includes a cold or the flu, fever or nausea, headaches or body aches, muscle pain, difficulty breathing, vomiting, diarrhea, active tuberculosis, mumps, measles, chickenpox, or any other contagious disease.

Additionally, USCIS will not allow entry to facilities if:

  • Have any symptoms of COVID-19, including but not limited to a recently developed cough, fever, difficulty breathing, changes in smell or taste, or fatigue;
  • Have been in close contact with anyone known or suspected to have COVID-19 in the last 14 days;
  • Have been instructed to self-quarantine or self-isolate by a health care provider, public health authority or government agency within the last 14 days; or
  • Are awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test.

Please consider the health and safety of those around you and reschedule your appointment if you are feeling ill or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19. If you or someone you are with appears ill or meets the conditions listed above, the USCIS officer may cancel your appointment or interview.

What type of COVID-19 safety protocols are in place at USCIS facilities?

Local conditions may vary, but currently, USCIS states that the following policies are in place:

  • In all areas of the country, all USCIS employees, on-site contractors, and visitors, regardless of vaccination status or level of COVID-19 transmission in your local area, are required to wear a mask inside all DHS and USCIS workspaces and federal buildings. 
  • If your temperature is 38 degrees Celcius or 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, you must immediately leave the office building.
  • You may not enter more than 15 minutes before your appointment, or 30 minutes for naturalization ceremonies.
  • Hand sanitizer will be provided at entry points.
  • Face coverings that cover the mouth and nose are required inside all USCIS facilities.
    • Neck gaiters, bandanas, and masks with exhaust valves are not considered acceptable face coverings.
  • Markings and physical barriers in the facility will encourage social distancing.
  • You may have to answer health screening questions before entering.
  • You are encouraged to bring your own blue or black ink pens.

Review Your Appointment Notice

Always check your Form I-797C appointment notice for any updated details or requirements from USCIS.

Connecting with Challa Law Group

Join us on Wednesdays for a live webinar at 12 PM ET on critical immigration updates

Don’t miss out on the immigration news! You can sign up for our mailing list or follow us on FacebookTwitterInstagramYouTube, or LinkedIn. You can also join our Telegram community.

Contact us at info@challalaw.com or 804-360-8482 to get your case started today.