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Immigration Q & A

12 June 2012 No Comment

Question: I have applied for permanent residence and have received a notice from the United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) office to have my biometrics taken.  What are biometrics and how are they used?

Answer: Biometrics are unique markers that identify or verify the identity of people using physical or behavioral characteristics.  Fingerprints are the most commonly known biometrics and law enforcement agencies have used them for more than a century.  Biometrics can also include photographs, DNA, face prints, eye scans and others.  Facebook, a private company, collects extensive amounts of biometric data and utilizes a face-recognition service that allows users to find and tag their friends.

The USCIS uses biometrics primarily to conduct criminal background checks on individuals applying for immigration benefits and to confirm their identity.  At a biometrics appointment, the USCIS will take your fingerprints and photo electronically on a computer.  After your biometrics are captured, the USCIS submits the information to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).  The FBI will scan their records to see if your fingerprints match any they have on file and to determine if you have any criminal history.  In addition, the FBI can share your information with other federal agencies and the governments of approximately 77 countries.  Some of those federal agencies also regularly search Facebook to verify information submitted by immigrant applicants.

By L. Patricia Ice


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