New biometrics policy may be problematic for limited English speakers
I have strong reservations about the policy USCIS has just announced concerning the rescheduling of biometrics appointments. It requires applicants to make a phone call rather than sending a written request. Many of my ESL students are reluctant to make phone calls because of the difficulty of making themselves understood over the phone. (And because they sometimes get stuck waiting for hours for a call to answered.) If they are sick with COVID, or have been recently exposed (and should be isolating) I can imagine that some of them will tempted to simply appear for the appointment anyway. The policy states that if they do not appear for the appointment, or if they cannot convince the person who answers the phone that they are rescheduling for "good cause" their application will be considered "abandoned."
Here's the announcement from USCIS:
Rescheduling Biometric Services Appointments
We have closed the Biometrics Processing Unit (BPU) in Alexandria, VA and no longer accept written requests to reschedule biometric services appointments at application support centers. You must now call the USCIS Contact Center to reschedule a biometric services appointment. This change reduces paperwork and helps us track requests more efficiently.
How to Reschedule a Biometric Services Appointment
You must call the USCIS Contact Center at 800-375-5283 (TTY 800-767-1833) before the date and time of your original appointment and establish good cause for rescheduling. If you fail to call before your scheduled appointment or fail to establish good cause, USCIS may not reschedule the appointment. If you fail to appear for your originally scheduled biometric services appointment and the appointment is not rescheduled, we will consider the related application, petition, or request abandoned and, as a result, we may deny it.
For more information, please visit the Preparing for Your Biometric Services Appointment webpage.