Biometric for H1B, L1 – DHS Submits New Rule (US Citizen Included)

DHS new biometric rule for all US visa applications - Iris, palm, voice scan. Increase in processing time expected. H1B premium may be in trouble!

Written by Anil Gupta
  Anil Gupta    Updated 12 Sep, 20

DHS has submitted the new rule in the federal register which will make the Biometrics mandatory for all types of US visa applications.

They have invited public comments and you have 30 days to voice your opinion (until Oct 13, 2020). DHS may add or remove certain provisions based on what kind of situations the general public shares.

This time, DHS has planned to not only take fingerprints and a photo at the biometric center but more of your physical profile including:

  • Fingerprint – EXISTING
  • Photograph (facial images specifically for facial recognition, as well as photographs of physical or anatomical features such as scars, skin marks, and tattoos) EXISTING
  • Signature EXISTING
  • Palm print – NEW
  • Voiceprint – NEW
  • Iris image – NEW
  • DNA (DNA test results, which include a partial DNA profile attesting to the genetic relationship) – NEW

A biometric fee is required to be paid for each application which is being reduced from the current $85 to $30 starting Oct 2, 2020.

Who is Newly Added to Biometric Requirement?

The DHS rule for biometric appearance will be discretionary and they may give a waiver for certain types of applications.

H1B and L1 are currently not required to give biometric for their H1B (and L1) extension, transfer, or amendments but may be included after this rule has been finalized.

This should be announced by USCIS with respect to form I-129 later if they decide to include it. USCIS did alert the public to include biometric with all i539 applications when they added it explicitly in Mar 2019.

This rule proposes that any individual alien who is present in the United States following an approved immigration benefit may be required to submit biometrics unless and until they are granted U.S. citizenship.

This means that people like Indians who spend decades waiting for a green card itself will have to give their biometrics multiple times.

Biometric Effects

#1 Job Losses

Many people have even lost their jobs as their H4 or L2 EAD was pending approval just because the H4/L2 extension biometric was pending.

It does not help even if your EAD expedite request gets approved as USCIS simply keeps waiting for the biometric completion.

#2 H1B Premium Processing Time

We already know how much pain and delays have been seen in H4 and L2 extensions simply because of Biometric delays.

Nobody knows how much an increase in processing time will be added due to this new step.

We do not know if USCIS plans to give expedited biometric for H1B premium processing cases. If not, then the total premium processing fee and time will actually be rendered useless or you will be required to upgrade to premium only after the biometric step has completed.

The premium processing time is changing to 15 business days instead of 15 calendar days starting Oct 2, 2020, anyway. This will add another 4-7 days to the total premium timeline.

#3 I-130 Applications

The family green card application’s processing time will be affected too as the US citizens will also be required to give their biometric before their applications for sponsorship are approved.

The I-130 processing time will definitely see an increase.


Are child applicants also required to give biometrics?

Yes, DHS had made it mandatory for a child of any age to appear in person and give their fingerprints for their application.

It was done for i539 based applications like H4, L2, etc but now they may add it for all types of US visa extensions within the US.

DHS’s intent to collect biometrics at any age is to match the records created for children to their adult records later and help combat child trafficking, smuggling, and labor exploitation by facilitating identity verification.

When will the biometric rule be implemented finally?

There is no final date of implementation available at this time.

The rule needs to go through the comments period and then DHS may take any amount of time to review those comments.

Once they have reviewed all comments and have finalized the rules, they will submit them again in the federal register and provide a final implementation start date at that time.

Are people outside USA applying the US visa affected by new rule?

People who apply for the US visa outside the US at the US embassy are currently required to go through biometrics anyway.

The new rule adds the requirement to appear for biometric within the US for people who file extensions without leaving the US physically.

Can Biometric requirement for my senior citizen Parent be waived?

DHS may waive the biometric requirement for your parent on a case by case basis.

But, as per the new rule, everyone needs to appear in person unless they are exempted based on their individual situation.

We believe that people who have medical conditions that do not allow them to visit the biometric center physically may be given an exception.


Written by Anil Gupta
  Anil Gupta  
Mentor | Immigration and Finance Journalism | Humor | Opinions are my own