On September 11, 2020, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a notice of proposed rulemaking that would have expanded the requirements for collecting biometrics. Some of the proposed changes included were removing age restrictions, requiring biometrics for every applicant, petitioner, sponsor, beneficiary, or other individual associated with an immigration benefit (including US citizens) unless exempted by DHS, codifying the authority to use DNA test results, and increasing the biometrics modalities to include iris image, palm print, and voice print. The rule would also modify how VAWA and T nonimmigrant petitioners demonstrate good moral character and remove the presumption of good moral character for individuals under the age of 14.
During the 30-day public comment period, commenters expressed a general opposition to the proposed rule, pointing to immigration policy concerns, privacy concerns, and economic concerns. Many thought the rule was an invasion of privacy and would infringe on the freedoms of US citizens, legal immigrants, victims of domestic violence, children, and other vulnerable groups. The rule was also likely to result in delays in adjudicating benefit requests, which are already subject to backlogs.
In response to the comments and in light of Executive Order 14012 meant to identify barriers that impede access to immigration benefits, DHS withdrew the proposed rule on May 10, 2021. In remaining committed to national security, identity management, and fraud prevention, DHS will continue to require the submission of biometrics where appropriate, but will do so without the additional burdens proposed in last year’s rule.