Immigration Service to stop using law enforcement for fingerprinting

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

Officials at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), a bureau in the Homeland Security Department, are ending contracts with certain designated law enforcement agencies (DLEAs) because they cannot meet new biometric standards for fingerprints.

USCIS officials are adopting new biometric standards Oct. 1, which will enhance the security and integrity of fingerprint data and improve customer service by storing and reusing it. They indicated that DLEAs will not be able to meet such standards.

Immigrants in rural locations who have gone to such DLEAs will be redirected to the bureau's application support centers, where officials can scan their fingerprints for FBI background checks.

In 1997, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, which has since been divided into three components including USCIS, opened 130 application support centers, each designed to serve individuals within 100 miles. In more rural areas, the agency partnered with local law enforcement agencies, establishing 52 contracts, to fingerprint and photograph applicants.

The DLEAs process about 25,000 sets of fingerprints annually while the application support centers process about 1.8 million per year.

Overseas application support centers, U.S. consular offices and military installations worldwide will continue to be recognized as authorized fingerprint locations.

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