Duplicate Biometrics Notices and the meaning of “should”

Recently many of our clients have been receiving duplicate biometrics appointment notices from USCIS. We have been advising our clients that it is probably a mistake but that they need to attend the biometrics just in case, otherwise the case could be denied. We, as well as many other attorney’s, also contacted the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), the bar associate for Immigration Lawyers, to alert them to this issue as well. AILA, in turn contacted USCIS about the issue and just today received a response back on their inquiry.

It appears that USCIS has been trying to transition over to a new system to send out biometrics notices, and during the transition duplicate notices were sent out. USCIS went on to say that, while lawyers should consider their clients individual facts and circumstances before advising them, if the client has received a duplicate notice it “should” not be necessary to attend the second appointment.

We, however, are a little disturbed by the use of the word “should” in the above statement. This means that in some cases, it is necessary to attend. For example, in some cases the biometrics may not have yielded clear fingerprints sufficient for background checks. How is one supposed to know if it is indeed necessary to go or not? USCIS does not give guidance on this issue. It becomes, in my opinion, a guessing game.

If it were me facing this situation, I would certainly go to the second biometrics appointment just in case. After all, the inconvenience of going a second time and being told there was no need is MUCH less than that of having your application denied for failure to show.

Please remember, as always, this blog does not offer legal advice. If you need legal advice, consult with a lawyer instead of a blog. Thank you.