Fingerprints, once taken by non-detained applicants, expired after 15 months. Previous protocol required attorneys to request new fingerprint appointment notices from the clerks at the Office of Chief Counsel on behalf of their clients prior to their expiration dates so that their clients could appear at those biometrics appointments to renew their fingerprints. Expired fingerprints could have potentially delayed the applicant’s pending cases before the Immigration Court or caused them to be denied. As such, it was very important for attorneys to stay on top of the expiration dates of their client’s cases.
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ICE ERO) entered into an agreement that went into effect nationwide on March 31, 2016 for non-detained individuals with cases pending before the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR). The new process maximizes efficiencies for both the government (ICE, USCIS and EOIR) and for non-detained individuals in EOIR proceedings by eliminating the costs and delays created by requiring individuals to provide new fingerprints when, in most cases, fingerprints results can be updated with information already available in either an ICE or USCIS system.
All individuals must continue to follow the instructions provide in EOIR proceedings that explain how to file copies of the applications for relief or protection from removal from USCIS. However, as a result of the new agreement, ICE will attempt to update the fingerprints of applicants from information already available to ICE ERO. If ICE is able to update the fingerprint results, the applicant will not need to take any further action, after they have had their fingerprints taken once.
In the rare event that ICE ERO is unable to update the fingerprint results, it will follow the protocol established in the USCIS-ICE agreement by sending a request to USCIS to update the applicant’s fingerprint results. If, after receiving the request from ICE, USCIS is unable to update the fingerprint results through USCIS systems, USCIS will notify ICE ERO. Then ICE ERO will submit a request to USCIS to schedule an appointment for fingerprinting at a USCIS Application Support Center (ASC). USCIS expects that this situation, in which an applicant does not have fingerprints in either the ICE or USCIS system, will rarely occur.
ICE Offices of the Chief Counsel (ICE OCC’s) will assist ICE ERO offices by providing them with a list of cases that need to have fingerprint results updated. As such, individuals should not appear at an ASC to update their fingerprints unless they receive an ASC appointment notice from USCIS. Individuals who appear at an ASC without an appointment notice from USCIS will not be fingerprinted.
ICE OCC’s will need to coordinate with their local ICE ERO offices to ensure that there are local procedures, based on this USCIS-ICE agreement, to assist with fingerprinting for non-detained cases in which the applicant’s results have expired.
Should you have any questions about your fingerprints and/or a biometrics appointment and new procedure, please contact attorney Helen S. Bennett, Esq. at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling her office at (561) 393-7037.