New policies on fingerprint cards and application support centers

Beginning December 3, 1997, under the provisions of provisions of the Department of Justice Appropriations Act, 1998, the INS is prohibited from accepting fingerprint cards used for background checks which have been
prepared by an individual or entity other than the INS, a registered State or local law enforcement agency (LEA), a U.S. consular office at a U.S. embassy or consulate, or a U.S. military installation abroad.

Effective from December 3, 1997, INS has implemented the following procedures:

1) Any FD-258 prepared by a non-LEA DFS that is received in person on or after December 3 cannot be accepted, regardless of the date the fingerprints were taken.

2) Any FD-258 prepared by a non-LEA DFS that is received in a Service mail room postmarked on or before December 2nd and received by December 5th can be accepted.

3) Any FD-258 prepared by a non-LEA that is received in a Service mail room on or after December 6th cannot be accepted, regardless of the date the fingerprints were taken.

4) Applicants for naturalization must file an N-400 WITHOUT an FD- 258. They will be scheduled to appear at a new INS Adjudications Support Center (ASC) or a location designated by INS to be fingerprinted at a later date.
However, where ASCs are not expected to open immediately, offices may, at their discretion, take fingerprints for naturalization applicants 1) whose fingerprints were previously rejected, or 2) who filed their application
appropriately without an FD-258 and who the INS believes should be fingerprinting without delay.

5) If an applicant files an N-400 with an FD-258 that cannot be accepted, the application should be accepted, if otherwise complete.

6) Applicants for every other type of benefit that requires an FD-258 (such as I-485, I-600, I-589, etc.) should continue to submit an FD- 258 at the time of filing or in accordance with the instructions on the benefit
application. These applicants should go to a registered state or local LEA to be fingerprinted or, may appear at an ASC for fingerprinting. In addition, these applicants may be scheduled to be re-fingerprinted at an
ASC if their prints are rejected.

8) All applications should continue to be filed at the locations currently specified by regulation (either at a Service Center or a local office).

9) All FD-258s that INS has accepted, regardless of where they were taken or when they were received (including FD-258s received at non- direct mail offices, should be forwarded to a Service Center for machine readable data (MRD) processing after going through a quality review. They will no longer be sent directly to the FBI. Because the MRD process provides faster response from the FBI, no requests for expedited processing of fingerprints will be accepted, except in the limited circumstances.

10) There will be no change to press print (ADIT) procedures (such as for I-90s or I-765s).

11) There will be no change to procedures for accepting fingerprints taken overseas by posts of the Department of Defense and Department of State.

Many of you who have applied for citizenship recently have already encountered these issues and some of you who had obtained fingerprints from the private designated fingerprinting services will no longer be allowed to
receive an approval of the Petition until a LEA or the INS has completed the FD 258. Hopefully, this should help in a more expeditious approval of the applications because it is supposed to reduce the time taken by the FBI
for fingerprint checks. However, there are delays already with many LEAs refusing to undertake fingerprinting leaving the applicants confused by the process.

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