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Final Rule Expanding Biometrics for Immigrants Clears Review

Jan. 14, 2021, 1:48 PM

The White House regulatory review office has cleared a Department of Homeland Security final rule to expand biometrics requirements for those seeking immigration benefits.

The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs signed off on the regulation (RIN: 1615-AC14) Wednesday, according to a posting on its website, less than a month after the review process began.

The rule would significantly broaden how the DHS and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services collect biometric information from visa applicants. According to the agency, more than 6 million biometrics submissions will be collected annually under the rule, an increase from the current 3.9 million.

It also would expand the kinds of personal data collected, from the current use of fingerprints and photographs to iris scans, palm and voice prints, facial recognition images, and DNA to establish familial ties. The agency also for the first time would gather that data from American citizens sponsoring or benefiting from a visa application.

The rule is one of several the Trump administration is moving quickly to finalize before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20. But the Biden team has signaled it will halt so-called “midnight regulations” that aren’t yet official.

To contact the reporter on this story: Genevieve Douglas in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Martha Mueller Neff at