Now that we are a full year into our wait, we are reaching the point where we have to start doing things all over again. You see, things like USCIS approvals and home studies expire after a certain amount of time. When you have a long wait like we do, it means you get to repeat things.
Even things like fingerprints. Even though our fingerprints haven’t changed. And even though they were electronically recorded by USCIS. In theory, couldn’t they just pull up our record and run them through their system to make sure we haven’t committed any crimes lately? I guess not.
So, anyway, this morning Craig and I visited our local USCIS office for our biometrics appointment. (Biometrics = USCIS speak for fingerprints.) We originally had our prints done on July 31, 2009. They expire after 15 months, which means that ours actually expired on October 31.
I went through moments of major panic back in early October when we had not yet received an appointment to get our prints done, knowing that we would be away much of the end of October. I submitted our request for re-fingerprinting on September 1st, which I thought was plenty of time. (Note: It was not. If you need to get re-printed anytime soon, give yourself more than two months!)
I had a lengthy email discussion with someone at USCIS (because they don’t like to do things like talk on the phone) and tried to explain why she needed to get us in for fingerprinting ahead of October 20th, when we left for Italy. At one point I got a curt response that said, “I do not consider your 9-day trip to Italy to be an emergency.” Okay, I got that it was not an emergency, but I didn’t want our prints to expire. I thought if our prints expired, our I-600A approval would expire, and that would be VERY, VERY, VERY BAD. Finally the woman understood how worried I was, and she told me that it didn’t matter if our prints expired, as long as they were current when 1) we got a referral or 2) we renewed our I-600A. Phew.
(Yes, this lawyer has retained electronic and printed copies of the email exchange where she tells me this. Just in case I need proof that USCIS told me this.)
Within a couple of days of that conversation, we got our appointment notice for this morning. Unlike the first time we went for fingerprints, there were actually a lot of people in the office, but we were still in and out within 35 minutes. This was just enough time to cost us $20 in parking. Gotta love parking two cars (headed to two offices) in downtown Baltimore at 8am when no street parking is allowed.
We’re caught up for now, but in January we’ll start working on renewing our home study and in April we’ll need to renew our USCIS approval. The USCIS fingerprints are good for 15 months but the I-600A approval is good for 18 months. Because that only makes sense, you know!