In response to guidance from the Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties on appropriately accommodating religious beliefs during fingerprinting or photographic identification, USCIS recently updated its policy to accommodate individuals wearing religious headwear or professing religious beliefs during photographs or fingerprint captures.
USCIS will continue to ask individuals to remove headwear that is not religious at the time of photograph capture. However, USCIS will now accommodate an individual who wears headwear as part of their religious practices. Religious headwear can be worn if a reasonable likeness can be obtained from an individual, the full face is visible, and the religious headwear does not cast a shadow on the face. USCIS will ask an individual to remove or adjust portions of religious headwear that covers all or part of the individual’s face. When USCIS requests that an individual adjusts or removes part of all of his or her religious headwear, the official will offer a private room or screened area to capture the photograph, when such space is readily available. The officer will also offer the individual a same-gender photographer. If either of these accommodations is unavailable, the individual will be offered to reschedule the appointment. USCIS will continue to deny requests for waiver for the photograph requirement, regardless of religious objection.
With respect to fingerprinting, USCIS officials and contractors often must physically assist an individual by holding his or her hand to obtain prints. Because some religions limit members of their religion from physically touching a person of the opposite gender, officials will accommodate individuals who request a same-gender fingerprint technician or Officer, if possible. If no same-gender technicians or officers are available, the appointment can be rescheduled.