Naturalization Applicants 75 and Older No Longer Automatically Exempt from Fingerprinting Requirement

On July 26, 2017, the United States Citizenship Immigrant Services published a Policy Alert (PA) titled “Biometrics Requirements for Naturalization” [see PA-2017-03]. The PA-2017-03 makes a minor change to the USCIS Policy Manual (PM) at 12 USCIS-PM B.2 [link]. The change has to do with the biometrics requirements for naturalization.

The USCIS explains that, since March of 1998, it has waived the fingerprint requirement for naturalization applicants age 75 or older. The reason for this policy was the difficulty in capturing fingerprints from such applicants.

Biometrics requirement

However, the USCIS now has access to electronic processing of applications and improved technology. Accordingly, its ability to capture fingerprints for naturalization applicants of all ages is greater than it was when the previous policy was implemented in 1998. For this reason, the USCIS will no longer automatically waive the fingerprint requirement for naturalization applicants age 75 or older.

The new rule does not affect other provisions for fingerprint accommodations or waivers. For example, PA-2017-03 makes clear that the USCIS will continue to make special arrangements to accommodate the needs of applicants with disabilities or who are otherwise homebound or hospitalized. The policy does not change existing USCIS guidance on fingerprint waivers for naturalization applicants with disabilities, applicants who are unable to provide fingerprints, or applicants who are otherwise unable to provide legible fingerprints.

Finally, it is important to note that the new policy only relates to the biometrics requirements for naturalization applicants. It has no bearing on biometrics requirements for applicants seeking any other immigration benefit(s).

Naturalization applicants should work closely with an experienced immigration attorney throughout the entire naturalization process. If an applicant is eligible for an accommodation or a waiver from the fingerprint requirement for naturalization, an experienced attorney will be able to assist the applicant in seeking one.