Biometric appointments for the US B1 visa are conducted at Offsite Facilitation Centres or OFCs. These centres are also referred to as Visa Application Centres (VACs). The main aim here is to enable faster visa processing by recording your fingerprints and photo before the visa interview.
The fingerprints are taken for security reasons. When you reach the US port of entry, you will again need to provide your fingerprints. Both these sets of fingerprints will be compared to determine your identity.
The biometrics appointment is completely different from the visa interview. And, to help you get through the process with ease, here’s a complete guide.
Documents Needed for Biometrics at the VAC
After you have paid the application fee of $160, you can log in to the US Department of State website and schedule your biometrics appointment. One very important thing to note is that there should be a minimum gap of one day between the biometrics appointment and the visa interview appointment. So, plan well in advance to avoid any mistakes while fixing the appointment.
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The documents you will need for the biometrics appointment include:
- DS 160 confirmation page with the barcode
- The visa application fee receipt
- Your passport number
What to Carry to the Visa Appointment Centre?
On the day of your biometrics appointment, make sure you carry the following documents:
- A valid passport that expires at least six months after the intended duration of stay in the US.
- The VAC appointment confirmation page
- B1 visa application fee receipt
- The DS-160 confirmation page
If you are under 14 years of age, you also need to bring one photograph as per the visa specifications.
Guidelines for the Biometrics Appointment
Most people need to visit the VAC just once, to get their photo and fingerprints taken. The USCIS has laid down certain guidelines for everyone who visits the VAC for their biometrics appointment. Some instructions you need to follow are:
- Any use of mobile phones, cameras or recording devices is strictly prohibited
- Electronic items, such as flash drives, memory sticks, Bluetooth devices and items such as briefcases, travel bags, cloth bags, leather bags, briefcases and zip folders, will be collected by the security personnel
- No food or drinks are allowed within the VAC premises
- Applicants should reach the venue 15 minutes before the scheduled appointment
Any type of cut or injury to your finger will not exempt you from fingerprinting at the VAC. If there is such an applicant, they will be asked to book another appointment after the injury has healed. This is because without the digital imprints of all your fingers, the application is considered incomplete.
What Happens at the VAC?
Digital imprints of all your fingers will be recorded during the appointment. This will be done by first scanning all four fingers of the left hand, followed by those of the right hand. Finally, the two thumbs will be scanned.
Apart from this, a digital photo will be taken by the official. This acts as proof that you were physically present during the VAC appointment. When you give the visa interview, the consular officer will refer to this same photo.
Parents of children under 7 years of age should bring a hard copy of their photograph to the VAC.