The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) formally took over the federal government’s immigration service operations on March 1, 2003. The USCIS was established to exclusively handle the administration of immigration applications, thereby enhancing the security and increasing the effectiveness of the country’s immigration services. 

A foreign individual who wants to enter the United States has to obtain a visa, either an immigrant visa for long-term residence or a non-immigrant visa for transitory travel. Nationality holders of a few countries may also be qualified to visit the United States without a ticket through the Visa Waiver Program. If you want to travel abroad for study, work, or participate in an exchange program and don’t satisfy the conditions for the visa waiver program, you must apply for a non-immigrant visa. The U.S. Embassy or Consulate will conduct an in-person interview for all visa applicants. You must use the website’s online scheduling tool or the call center to make an appointment for that interview.

Supporting documents:

Before scheduling a non-immigrant visa appointment, you need the following information and documentation:

  • Your passport must be valid for at least six months longer than the period you plan to remain in the U.S. 
  • Your confirmation page for the DS-160.
  • Your email address.
  • A 10-year history of travel.
  • A list of the siblings and kids.
  • Special requirements of documents based on visa types.

Visa processing time:

Visa applications typically take five working days to process; however individual cases may take longer or shorter depending on the applicant’s situation and other special requirements.

Biometrics for a green card:

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will take your photo and fingerprints during this appointment. Afterward, they will run this data through the FBI database to investigate any prior moral or ethical offense done by the applicant. 

The primary goal of the biometrics appointment is to confirm that the green card applicant does not have any relevant prior immigration infractions or a serious criminal history. The biometrics appointment for an applicant already present in the country will take place relatively early in the green card application procedure at a nearby USCIS location. However, the applicant outside the U.S. will go for a biometrics appointment at the American embassy handling their application after scheduling the green card interview.

The applicant will be asked to sign their name and take their fingerprints and picture during the appointment. The FBI’s criminal database and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) database of non-citizens with immigration violations will be compared to the fingerprints, photos, and signatures (such as crossing the border illegally).

It doesn’t include a DNA test or a blood test. While if a visa application is based on a blood relationship (parent/child or sibling/sibling), and uncertainty is found regarding that relationship, the applicant may be asked to submit a DNA sample. 

This process usually takes 15-20 minutes. It is inappropriate to ask questions during the biometrics session because the individuals collecting your fingerprints and photo are unaware of your application’s details. Mostly, the individuals taking fingerprinting are not even USCIS employees; instead, they are independent contractors.

Getting ready for the appointment:

While preparing for your biometrics session, remember a few things;

  • First, the sponsor is not required to attend the appointment; only the family member asking for a green card is needed to ensure the presence at the scheduled venue and time.
  • Second, remember to carry the necessary paperwork;
  • Your passport or driver’s license, or another photo ID.
  • The notification sent by USCIS consists of the date, time, and location of your biometrics appointment. 
  • Any additional records that USCIS explicitly requested in your appointment notice (typically any previous employment authorization documents or travel permits issued to you).
  • Avoid bringing any weapons at biometric appointments. 
  • Avoid getting food, electronics, or photographs into the fingerprinting area.

Dropbox USCIS appointment:

Unless you are eligible for the Interview Waiver Eligibility, often known as a Dropbox Visa Appointment, in-person interviews are typically required for U.S. visa stamping at consulates. In light of COVID, the U.S. Department of State has issued a minor revision to the prerequisites for interview waiver or Dropbox stamping.