USCIS'S New ID Requirements

by Elizabeth Brettschneider


There is sincere concern at immigration about identity fraud. I can only imagine the stories that Immigration employees must tell about twins attempting to switch identities for immigration benefits or people masquerading as someone else at a green card interview. Now, however, any impersonations will be much more difficult (if not impossible) since in an effort to combat identity fraud during the immigration process, USCIS has implemented a new program called Customer Identity Verification (CIV).

To ensure the individuals who appear for a face-to-face immigration benefit are who they say they are, biometrics (i.e., an electronic scan of two fingerprints and a photograph) will now be taken any time an applicant appears for an interview or makes an in-person request for an immigration benefit. The fingerprints and photograph taken will be entered into various government databases to verify the information and the identity of the person making the request. This procedure is separate from the biometrics taken at the local Application Support Centers as part of an application for an immigration benefit such as a green card or citizenship. 

This new program will mostly affect foreign nationals appearing for their green card or naturalization interview but it will also affect those applying for emergency Advance Parole (i.e. travel permission), for temporary extensions of Form I-90, and for temporary I-551 stamps to evidence lawful permanent resident status, as those requests involve in-person appointments at the local USCIS field offices.  

In my opinion, this new program is nothing to worry about, but just something to be aware of for those that may have an upcoming immigration appointment.  In addition to making sure all documents are in order, foreign nationals should also be photo ready and avoid injuries to hands and fingers. In fact, foreign nationals who have had problems in the past with identity theft or experienced delays caused from confusion with another individual of the same or similar name may even see some benefits from this new procedure.