USCIS proposes regulation to expand biometrics collection

Published: 09/17/2020


U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has proposed a regulation that would significantly expand biometrics collection by the government.

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Key Points:
  • The proposed regulation would expand USCIS collection of biometrics to include any applicant, regardless of age, including U.S. citizen sponsors; more types of biometrics, including palm prints, iris images and voice recognition, and, in some cases, DNA; more frequent biometrics collection, including continuous screening until an applicant becomes a naturalized U.S. citizen. Biometrics collected by USCIS would be shared with Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
  • The agency will accept public comments on the proposal and will be required to review and consider those comments before releasing a final version of a regulation, which could differ from the proposed version.
  • The comment period is now open. Comments on the proposed regulation must be received by Oct. 13 and comments regarding the impact on USCIS forms must be received by Nov. 10. Comments may be submitted through the eRulemaking Portal or through alternate methods described in the Federal Register notice.
BAL Analysis: Current rules regarding biometrics collection will remain in place until a final regulation is issued, which will specify an implementation date. Because the proposed regulation raises privacy concerns, the agency is likely to receive a high volume of comments during the notice-and-comment period, and the regulation could be challenged in the courts. BAL is following these developments and will report new information as the regulation moves through the rulemaking process.

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