Yesterday we visited our local USCIS office to have our fingerprints done. I thought it might be interesting to tell what all was involved for those that haven't yet done this part of their process. I talked to a friend a few months ago and she gave me a run down on what to expect and I found it not only helpful, but extremely comforting. I will confess, I built this up to be something spectacular in my mind.
Here's what I had envisioned...a cold, formal, governmental looking office with metal detectors and officers standing at the door. Lots of people sitting and waiting to be called back...not enough chairs...kids running around and hanging off their parents. A line of people at the desk trying to get signed in. Angry and short tempered workers who tell us that we can't have Katie in the building and who don't understand that as a service dog for Steve, it's his right to bring her in. And I worried that even though I read the form 100 times, I'd have the date or time wrong, wouldn't have the right identification, would have bad fingerprints or would just have some hateful woman who doesn't understand these fingerprints are the one thing standing between me and Steve having our dossier sent to China.
Want to know what it was really like? NOTHING LIKE I IMAGINED (thank goodness!). The office was a very non-descript office suite situated with many other similarly non-descript office suites. In fact, USCIS wasn't even emblazoned across the top of the building when we pulled in. It was something general like "Application Processing Center". It was a large open area with about 35 chairs for waiting...of which NONE were filled. That's right, NO ONE was waiting! I could see some offices off to the side, but there was no noise coming from them. Only a security desk and guard sitting about half way into the large open space. I walked up to him and asked him if I was in the right place, flashing the form and he confirmed I was. I showed him my driver's license and he gave me a form to fill out. We chatted about the weather since it was cool and rainy. He is from Wisconsin and is used to 20 below temps and several feet of snow. Which of course, made our 3 inches hilarious for him. The form was simple...just basic information. Filled it out, returned it to him and he immediately walked me right to a cubicle where they were to "take my biometrics".
Honestly, I knew fingerprinting was involved but wasn't sure what else "biometrics" involved. At work, our biometrics include height, weight, cholesterol etc. The cubicle had a camera set up also. However, they did not take our pictures! My technician was probably 60 years old and the sweetest lady. She talked about her sinus and allergy issues this season and I told her about Steve's sinus surgery. While we talked, she took my fingerprints. Very similar to the prints we had made at the UPS store for our local background checks. And just in case you didn't know, there's no longer any ink. Just a platen glass in which you put your finger on.
She looked and admired my fingers for their moisture. She said this is the worst time of year because people's fingers are so dry, sometimes it's hard to get good prints. But she didn't seem too concerned about me. Steve actually started with his guy a minute later than I did, but got done first. So I guess his prints must be better than mine. :) Anyway, I digress. She finally finished taking my prints and I asked her about how long for the results and she said they were sent already. I'm not sure what that means in terms of getting the results in the mail but hopefully soon.
I overheard some of the office workers talking to Steve about Katie and what a beautiful dog she is. So all my fears about them telling us we couldn't bring her in were totally unfounded.
All in all, the visit took maybe 20 minutes with no waiting at all. I should tell you that our appointment was scheduled at 10am, but I'd heard if you get there early, they'll take you right back and then you don't have as long of a wait with all the other people coming in with your same appointment time. We actually got there about 9:30am. I told them I was sorry for being so early but with the rain and traffic, we just didn't know what to expect. They were fine with me being early and in the end it paid off. When we left at about 9:50, there were still only maybe 2 people there...so it clearly was just a slow time for them. But no complaints for me.
I'll keep you posted about when those results arrive! :)