Fingerprints
The USCIS requires green card and naturalization applicants to be fingerprinted for the purpose of conducting FBI criminal background checks.

Fingerprinting FAQ
  1. Submit application
    If the fingerprints are required for the application, submit your application with the biometric fee so that USCIS can take your fingerprints.

    Biometric fees details

    Do not submit FD-258, fingerprint card with your application. Otherwise, the card will be rejected and you will still be scheduled to be fingerprinted by the USCIS.

  2. Receive an appointment letter from USCIS
    After USCIS receives your application, they will send you an appointment letter with the location of the nearest USCIS authorized fingerprint site. To better ensure both the quality and integrity of the process, the USCIS processes fingerprint cards for immigration benefits only if an authorized fingerprint site prepares them.

    Make sure to read the instructions in the appointment letter, and take it to the USCIS authorized fingerprint site when you go to your fingerprint appointment, on the date and time specified in the appointment letter.

    A van will come to certain areas who are located far away from the nearest fingerprinting location. Appointment letter from USCIS will mention if a van serves your area.

  3. Go to the fingerprinting location
    Take the appointment letter from USCIS, and other evidence as mentioned in the letter such as passport, permanent resident card, drivers license etc. Your second form of identification should have your photograph in it.

  4. Get your fingerprints taken
    At the time of fingerprinting, you will given a form to fill out and you will have to indicate the application for which the fingerprinting is being done, as they are many green card categories, naturalization etc. that may require fingerprinting.

    Most sites are using ink to take fingerprints currently. Every fingerprinting site will use electronic technology to take fingerprints without ink eventually.

    USCIS will send your fingerprints to the FBI for criminal background check. FBI, in some cases, may reject your fingerprints because of the quality of the fingerprints. In case your fingerprints are rejected by the FBI, USCIS will notify you and schedule another appointment. You will not have to pay the fee again.

    If the FBI rejects your fingerprints twice, you may be asked to provide police clearances for each place you have lived in the past 5 years. You will need to contact the appropriate police department in the place you have lived to get these clearances.

  5. Mail additional documents if USCIS requests them
    Sometimes, USCIS may need additional documents from you before they can schedule your interview. USCIS will notify you in such cases what the need and where to send it.

  6. Wait for USCIS to schedule your interview
    Once the FBI check is cleared, USCIS will schedule you for an interview. USCIS will send you an interview notice in the mail that will specify the date, time and place of the interview.

    Generally the fingerprints are considered good for at least 15 months. If the case still has not been completed after that time, the applicant may be asked to do the fingerprints again.

    It is impossible to understand the logic of expiring fingerprints. Do fingerprints ever change? Isn't that the purpose of taking fingerprints so that FBI can do a background check against their database to see if you have done any crime in past? If the fingerprints were to expire or change, what would be the purpose of fingerprints?
    It is certainly possible that if a long time has passed since your background check was done and if the application is still pending, you may have done some crime meanwhile. But that can be easily checked using the fingerprints that they already have. Why take fingerprints again?
    Anyway, this is USCIS and many times, the logic does not work here.
Fingerprint Status Check
Fingerprints taken at USCIS goes to the FBI for back ground checks. The FBI is very efficient and processes and sends it to USCIS within 3-4 weeks. Once your fingerprints are taken, you can check with the FBI whether your back ground has been checked and your fingerprint report has been sent back to USCIS or not. The FBI does not tell whether the fingerprints were rejected or whether they found anything negative about you.

The FBI can be reached either at 304-625-5590 or at 304-625-2406. They are located in West Virginia and it is the same number for the entire US. If the representative comes to the phone, he/can tell you about your case immediately or no one picks the phone, you may leave the message giving your spelled out name, contact phone number and Alien Number. They are usually prompt in returning phone calls.

If FBI can't track your details, you may need to contact the USCIS office where you were fingerprinted to find out the status.

Exceptions
  • Applicants and petitioners residing abroad who are fingerprinted at a United States consular or military installation abroad do not need to be fingerprinted by the USCIS and are exempt from the fingerprint fee. These applicants and petitioners must file their completed card at the time their application or petition is filed.

  • Applicants for Form I-589, Application for Political Asylum, do not have to pay biometric fee.

  • Application filing initial registrations of Form I-817, "Application for Family Unity Benefits under the Family Unity Program" must follow the same procedure as above. However, applicants filing extensions need not be fingerprinted and therefore, do not have to pay biometric fee.

  • Applicants filing initial registrations or extensions of Form I-821, "Application for Temporary Protected Status" must pay the biometric fee each time. The rest of the procedure is same as described above.

  • Form I-600, "Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative (Orphan Petition)" and Form I-600A, "Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition (Advance Processing Application)"

    Prospective adoptive parents and all adult members (18 years of age and older) of the household must go through fingerprinting process, as described above. This is required by USCIS to determine the ability of prospective adoptive parents to a proper home environment for an orphan and their suitability as parents.

    Each adult has to pay separate biometric fee.

    I-600 can not be approved without completing the fingerprinting process. Processing and adjudication of I-600 and I-600A is a high priority for USCIS. Therefore, every required adult household member will be scheduled fingerprinting appointment on an accelerated schedule.