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Chapter 2 - Background and Security Checks

A. Background Investigation

USCIS conducts an investigation of the applicant upon his or her filing for naturalization. The investigation consists of certain criminal background and security checks.[1] The background and security checks include collecting fingerprints and requesting a “name check” from the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI). In addition, USCIS conducts other inter-agency criminal background and security checks on all applicants for naturalization. The background and security checks apply to most applicants and must be conducted and completed before the applicant is scheduled for his or her naturalization interview.[2]

B. Fingerprints

1. Fingerprint Requirement

USCIS must collect fingerprint records as part of the background check process on applicants for naturalization regardless of their age.[3] In general, applicants receive a biometric service appointment at a local Application Support Center (ASC) for collection of their biometrics (fingerprints, photographs, and signature).[4]

USCIS notifies applicants in writing to appear for fingerprinting after filing the naturalization application. Fingerprints are valid for 15 months from the date of processing by the FBI. An applicant abandons his or her naturalization application if the applicant fails to appear for the fingerprinting appointment without good cause and without notifying USCIS.[5]

Previously, USCIS had waived the fingerprint requirements for applicants 75 years old or older because it was difficult to capture readable fingerprints from this age group. As a result, applicants 75 years old or older were not required to appear at an ASC. Electronic processing of applications and improved technology now allows USCIS to capture fingerprints for applicants of all ages and enhances the ability to confirm identity and perform required background checks.[6]

Once an ASC collects an applicant’s biometrics, USCIS submits the records to the FBI for a full criminal background check.[7] The response from the FBI that a full criminal background check has been completed includes confirmation that:

  • The applicant does not have an administrative or a criminal record;

  • The applicant has an administrative or a criminal record; or

  • The applicant’s submitted fingerprint records have been determined unclassifiable for the purpose of conducting a criminal background check and have been rejected.

Accommodations 

USCIS makes special arrangements to accommodate the needs of applicants who are unable to attend an appointment, including applicants with disabilities and homebound or hospitalized applicants. All domestic USCIS facilities are accessible to applicants with disabilities. Applicants who are homebound or hospitalized may request an accommodation when unable to appear at an ASC for biometrics processing. Applicants should submit a copy of the appointment notice and medical documentation verifying the need for an in-home appointment with the local field office. 

Applicants who need to request an accommodation for their appointment can submit a request online or call the USCIS Contact Center at any time at 800-375-5283 (TDD: 800-767-1833).[8]

2. Fingerprint Waivers

Applicants with Certain Medical Conditions

An applicant may qualify for a waiver of the fingerprint requirement if the applicant is unable to provide fingerprints because of a medical condition, to include birth defects, physical deformities, skin conditions, and psychiatric conditions. Only certain USCIS officers are authorized to grant a fingerprint waiver.

An officer responsible for overseeing applicant fingerprinting may grant the waiver in the following situations:

  • The officer has met with the applicant in person;

  • ​The officer or authorized technician has attempted to fingerprint the applicant; and

  • ​The officer determines that the applicant is unable to be fingerprinted at all or is unable to provide a single legible fingerprint.

An applicant who is granted a fingerprint waiver must bring local police clearance letters covering the relevant period of good moral character to his or her naturalization interview. All clearance letters become part of the record. In cases where the applicant is granted a fingerprint waiver or has two unclassifiable fingerprint results, the officer must take a sworn statement from the applicant covering the period of good moral character.

An officer should not grant a waiver if the waiver is solely based on:

  • The applicant has fewer than 10 fingers;

  • The officer considers that the applicant’s fingerprints are unclassifiable; or

  • ​The applicant’s condition preventing the fingerprint capturing is temporary.

An officer’s decision to deny a fingerprint waiver is final and may not be appealed.

C. FBI Name Checks

The FBI conducts “name checks” on all naturalization applicants, and disseminates the information contained in the FBI’s files to USCIS in response to the name check requests. The FBI’s National Name Check Program (NNCP) includes a search against the FBI’s Universal Index (UNI), which contains personnel, administrative, applicant, and criminal files compiled for law enforcement purposes. The FBI disseminates the information contained in the FBI’s files to USCIS in response to the name check requests.

The FBI name check must be completed and cleared before an applicant for naturalization is scheduled for his or her naturalization interview. A definitive FBI name check response of “NR” (No Record) or “PR” (Positive Response) is valid for the duration of the application for which they were conducted. Definitive responses used to support other applications are valid for 15 months from the FBI process date. A new name check is required in cases where the final adjudication and naturalization have not occurred within that timeframe or the name check was processed incorrectly.

Footnotes


[^ 1] See INA 335. See 8 CFR 335.1. 

[^ 2] See 8 CFR 335.2(b).

[^ 3] See 8 CFR 103.2(b)(9), 8 CFR 335.1, and 8 CFR 335.2. See Part I, Military Members and their Families, Chapter 6, Required Background Checks [12 USCIS-PM I.6], for guidance on the background and security check procedures for members or veterans of the U.S. armed forces.

[^ 4] See 8 CFR 103.2(a). 

[^ 5] See 8 CFR 103.2(b)(13)(ii). See Chapter 4, Results of the Naturalization Examination [12 USCIS-PM B.4].

[^ 6] See ​INA 335​. See ​8 CFR 335.1​. ​

[^ 7] See 8 CFR 335.2(b). 

[^ 8] See USCIS web pages on Homebound Processing and How to Request Special Accommodation.

Sours: https://www.uscis.gov/policy-manual/volume-12-part-b-chapter-2

FBI Name Check Delays Now Affect Pending I-485 Cases, Again

infoIf you have a pending application for adjustment of status (Form I-485 or “green card”) and are experiencing substantial delays due to the backlog in FBI name check result to clear your way with the USCIS adjudication officers, you know what we are talking about and we, too, know how devastating such delays can be in your life.  Some of the clients we helped successfully in the past had cases pending with FBI for over 3 years before they came to our office.

The situation became so problematic that only not too long ago, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) allowed its examiners to automatically approve those I-485 applications if the FBI name check was pending for more than 180 days provided that the case would otherwise be approvable, of course.  Ever since then, many pending I-485s have been cleared off the backlog at the USCIS for almost the past year, coupled by the substantial processing improvement by the FBI in such matters where FBI now says it can complete a name check within the normal targeted range of 90 days.  But, this considerate policy by the USCIS did not last too long either.

USCIS has just rescinded this good practice which means USCIS adjudicators will now not be allowed to give automatic approvals to the pending I-485 without an FBI name check clearance even if the case has been pending at FBI for more than 180 days or longer.  The only exception or endnote to the announcement is that a special permission by the USCIS headquarters is now required for automatic approvals without further delay to wait for the final result of the name check result from the FBI.  No further details regarding the guidelines or considerations when such a special permission might be granted or what factors warranting such a special consideration were given by the USCIS and are yet to be discovered.

Yu, South & Associates also learned from the AILA source that this policy change does not affect other types of background checks. Adjustment applications are also subject to FBI fingerprint searches and other security clearances; these checks must be completed before an adjustment application can be approved.

If you or your family member or friends might have such a problem involving long overdue pending case currently still stuck at the FBI level for either fingerprint searches, background security clearances or name check result to continue your pending I-485 adjudication by the USCIS and would like us to look into the matter for you to either investigate where and what might be the problem or the delay or if we can help to expedite the process, please send your detailed information to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we will contact you to further discuss the matter in confidence, promptly and personally.

Yu, South & Associates, Where YOU Matter the Most

Sours: https://www.yuimmigration.com/news/224-fbi-name-check-delays-now-affect-pending-i-485-cases,-again.html
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1. The Fingerprinting (or Biometrics Services) Requirement

The Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) requires applicants of age from 14 to 79 to be fingerprinted for the purpose of conducting FBI criminal background checks. To better ensure both the quality and integrity of the process, the USCIS processes fingerprint cards for immigration benefits only if an authorized fingerprint site prepares them. 

After receiving your I-485 adjustment application, the USCIS will mail you a notice scheduling you to appear for a fingerprinting at a USCIS designated location. The notice will specify a week for the applicant to appear. The fingerprints are a requirement for every applicant at age 14 through 79 years old to determine if they have a criminal history.

In addition to the filing fee for the I-1485 adjustment application, there is a fingerprinting fee (or biometrics services fee) charge for this procedure. The fingerprinting fee must be paid at the time of filing of the I-485 adjustment application, before the completion of a fingerprinting.

2. The Fingerprinting Process 

A definitive response from the FBI regarding fingerprint clearances is required before the I-485 application can be approved or transferred to the local office for interview. Applicants who do not appear at the fingerprinting within the time frame allowed will be denied as an abandonment of their I-485 application for failure to appear. 

Previously, the fingerprinting notices would arrive at varying times during the case process. They were not tied to the case progress. In the event that the fingerprint report was too old by the time the case was ready for adjudication, the new prints would be required.

Authorized fingerprint sites include USCIS offices, Application Support Centers (ASCs), designated law enforcement agencies, and U.S. consular offices and military installations abroad. In general, USCIS schedules people to be fingerprinted at an authorized fingerprint site after an application or petition is filed. The USCIS charges a fee per person (for most applicants) at the time of filing for this fingerprinting service. 

3. The Background Check Process for I-485 Application

To ensure that immigration benefits are given only to eligible applicants, USCIS adopted background security check procedures that address a wide range of possible risk factors. Different kinds of applications undergo different levels of scrutiny. All applicants for a U.S. immigration benefit are subject to criminal and national security background checks to ensure they are eligible for that benefit. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the Federal agency that oversees immigration benefits, performs checks on every applicant, regardless of ethnicity, national origin or religion.

FBI name checks are also required for many applications. The FBI name check is totally different from the FBI fingerprint check. The records maintained in the FBI name check process consist of administrative, applicant, criminal, personnel and other files compiled by law enforcement. Initial responses to this check generally take about two weeks. 

In about 80 percent of the cases, no match is found. Of the remaining 20 percent, most are resolved within six months. Less than one percent of cases subject to an FBI name check remain pending longer than six months. Some of these cases involve complex, highly sensitive information and cannot be resolved quickly. 

Even after FBI has provided an initial response to USCIS concerning a match, the name check is not complete until full information is obtained and eligibility issues arising from it are resolved. USCIS normally uses the following three background check mechanisms but maintains the authority to conduct other background investigations as necessary:

1) The Interagency Border Inspection System (IBIS) Name Check— IBIS is a multi-agency effort with a central system that combines information from multiple agencies, databases and system interfaces to compile data relating to national security risks, public safety issues and other law enforcement concerns.

2) FBI Fingerprint Check—FBI fingerprint checks are conducted for many applications. The FBI fingerprint check provides information relating to criminal background within the United States. Generally, the FBI forwards responses to USCIS within 24-48 hours. If there is a record match, the FBI forwards an electronic copy of the criminal history (RAP sheet) to USCIS.

3) FBI Name Checks—FBI name checks are also required for many applications. The FBI name check is totally different from the FBI fingerprint check. The records maintained in the FBI name check process consist of administrative, applicant, criminal, personnel and other files compiled by law enforcement. Initial responses to this check generally take about two weeks. In about 80 percent of the cases, no match is found.

4. The Change of Address After Form I-485 Application

If you changed your address after Form I-485 application, you need to notify USCIS about the change of your address, by sending the Form AR11 to USCIS, otherwise you may not get USCIS notice for your Form I-485 application decision from USCIS, or get RFE notice from USCIS to ask you to show your current address, when USCIS evaluates your I-485 application. Also, not informing USCIS about your address change is illegal and you may get problem for your I-485 application.

5. The Form I-693 for Medical Examination of Aliens Seeking Adjustment of Status

USCIS Form I-693 is also called Medical Examination of Aliens Seeking Adjustment of Status. It is used for aliens to have medical examination in U.S., in order to receive a U.S. green card or lawful permanent residence, through the procedure known as Adjustment of Status. The Adjustment of Status is a process to complete the entire green card application in the United States with the USCIS, including the possible interview. The Form I-693 must be completed by a USCIS designated doctor inside U.S.

The alien applicant needs to fill the Part I of the Form I-693. The alien applicant only needs to file simple information in Part I, such as name, gender, U.S. address, date of birth, place and country of birth, alien registration number (A number) and the Social Security Number (SSN) if you have one. An alien may have the A number, if he or she has applied for other immigration benefits previously.

There is a place for the alien applicant's signature at the bottom of Part 1. But you should not sign it before you see the USCIS designated doctor, and you should sign it only until the Doctor asks you to to so.

Generally, all aliens applying for USCIS Form I-485 for adjustment of status in the United States should file Form I-693 for medical examination. But if an alien applicant has already had a medical examination before as part of an immigration application process within the one year, the alien applicant may not need to do to the medical examination again.

For example, if an alien applicant has already had a medical examination done before as a K visa holder or a V visa holder, the alien may not need to do the Form I-693 for medical examination again. 

Also, if the alien applicant is a refugee, he or she may not need not submit Form I-693 if he or she is applying for adjustment of status one year after the first admission in United States, and there were no medical grounds of inadmissibility during the medical examination in his/her home country.

6. Do I Have to Go Through an Interview Process for Form I-485 Adjusting Status?

If you have applied for a Green Card within U.S. through the procedure known as "adjustment of status" using USCIS Form I-485,  it is likely to be called in for an interview by USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services), as the last step in your immigration application process.
 
With proper preparation, you should not fear the adjustment of status interview, and it does not mean that your application for adjustment of status has been singled out for extra scrutiny. An immigration interview is a normal part of the process, allowing USCIS to confirm the information you have provided, and review all the facts with you present.

USCIS may skip the interview in some cases, or requires only the immigrant to attend, not the family petitioner or sponsor, if the petition case is especially clear, and not likely to involve fraud or other complicated circumstances.

If you applied to Form I-485 adjusting status, based on marriage to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, it is certainly that  you and  your U.S. spouse will be called in for an immigrant interview. The interview is to ensure that the marriage is genuine, and not merely entered into for the purpose of obtaining a Green Card.

7. How to Prove Your Marriage Is Real or "Bona Fide" for an USCIS Interview?

To obtain a U.S. Lawful Permanent Residence (Green Card) based on marriage, you will have to prove that the marriage is real or "bona fide". This means a marriage in which the two people intend, from the start, to establish a life together as husband and wife. An important step to prove the marriage is real or "bona fide" is joining your lives together.

You should not wait until the last minute to look for ways that you can prove that you are really married, or that you live together, or that you trust each other enough to share financial and other personal matters.

Also, you should take steps to prepare for a future together. For example, a U.S. citizen in a sham marriage might not remember to add his or her new spouse as a beneficiary to a company sponsored life insurance policy, while someone in a real marriage would or at least should. Thus, Some important steps to prove the marriage is real or "bona fide" might include:

• make your spouse a beneficiary on your retirement account or other accounts that require or allow a payout to a beneficiary upon the holder’s death;

• make sure that both spouses are covered under your health insurance policy, if the other spouse doesn't have his or her own insurance;

• if you live together, add your spouse to your house deed, mortgage, or apartment lease;

• if you live together, add your spouse’s name to your garbage, utility, cable, and other bills;

• take out a joint credit card;

• open a joint bank account;
 
• file joint tax returns;

• join a gym or club together;

• buy a car or other major asset together.

8. USCIS' Expedite Process for "Aging-out" Child about to Reach 21 Years of Age

If one of dependent child is about to reach 21 years of age and seeks immigrant status as the dependent beneficiary of either family-based or employment-based immigration, it is the USCIS practice to take such case as the "top priority" case and expedite the process so that the Green Card applications for the entire family are adjudicated before the child reaches 21 years of age.

Consequently, not only the aging out child but also the parents and other siblings receive "expedite" processing and cases are approved in a fairly short period of time. This aging-out expedite process has been available in the USCIS.

Currently, aging-out expedite works well in the family-based proceedings. Such aging-out expedite works at the USCIS local district office one-step I-130/I-485 proceedings. The USCIS district offices approves I-485 applications for the entire family members in the event that a child will reach 21 years of age in a few months.

Sours: https://greencardfamily.com/i485/i485_fingerprint.htm
Enhanced Background Checks Here to Stay

All applications or petitions filed with USCIS require a security check to be conducted of the applicant. You may find that your case is pending beyond expected processing times due to these security checks. We are providing some information regarding security checks to enable you to better understand this process.Why is a security check needed on my case?USCIS performs background security checks to ensure that immigration benefits are given only to eligible applicants.  A wide range of possible risk factors are accounted for and different applications undergo different levels of scrutiny.

What security checks does USCIS use?

There are several types of background checks that USCIS uses. The three commonly used security checks are:

  • “IBIS” is the Interagency Border Inspection System Name Check.  “IBIS” checks are run before any petition or application can be adjudicated. IBIS provides data relating to national security risks, public safety issues and other law enforcement concerns.  A “hit” in IBIS requires that USCIS check with the agency that input the original data before the application or petition can be adjudicated.
  • FBI Fingerprint Checks are done prior to adjudicating adjustment of status applications, asylum applications, and other applications with permanent duration. The FBI fingerprint check provides information relating to criminal background within the United States.
  • FBI Name Check is separate from the Fingerprint Check.  The records maintained in the FBI name check process consist of administrative, applicant, criminal, personnel and other files compiled by law enforcement.  When there is a “hit” in a name check, USCIS must wait for the FBI to resolve the “hit”.

It is not possible for an application to be granted until completion of the security check and USCIS does not expedite these checks.

Why is my security check taking so long?

Since USCIS cannot grant an application or petition until the security check is completed, pending background checks will delay processing of your case.  If a background check response is received that requires further investigation, then the check will remain pending until the investigation has been resolved.  This is a time-consuming and labor-intensive process and could take several months or years to complete.

How can I find out the status of my security check?

USCIS does not share information about the records match or the nature or status of any investigation with applicants or their representatives.  However, you can contact your congressional representative to inquire on your behalf on long pending security checks.  Any congressional inquiry must be initiated by the applicant.

 
Do security checks effect any other applications?

Yes, security checks are also performed on all applications for visas at U.S. Consulates/Embassies abroad.  These checks are performed each time you apply for a visa.  In addition to the background security checks described above, visa applicants may also experience delays due to the Technology Alert List (TAL).  Please see our Memo regarding security checks and travel delays for more information: Travel Warning – Security Check.

Sours: https://www.jackson-hertogs.com/us-immigration/helpful-immigration-pages/security-checks-and-delays/

Check i485 background

Background and Security Checks


Aliens applying for an adjustment of status (AOS) are required to undergo background and security checks, which serve to ensure that permanent resident status is not granted to a criminal, terrorist, or otherwise nefarious actor. These checks typically occur after an AOS applicant submits fingerprints, photographs, and signature at a biometrics appointment set by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Fingerprinting

For certain petitions—including those to adjust status, re-enter the United States, and become a naturalized U.S. citizen—an applicant’s fingerprints are obtained, in part, for the purpose of conducting a criminal background check. For most applicants, USCIS charges a set biometrics fee (currently $85 per person) at the time of filing. To confirm whether or not you must be fingerprinted as a part of your petition, refer to the instructions on your immigration petition form.

Importantly, AOS applicants should not submit a completed fingerprint card, FD-258, on their own. Doing so will result in their AOS application being rejected. Instead, upon receipt of an AOS application with correct fees, USCIS will send applicants an appointment letter, which will list the time, date, and location where they will be fingerprinted. Applicants should ensure they carefully read the instructions in the appointment letter, and take it with them when they attend the appointment.

Background Check: National Name Check Program

In addition to security checks conducted using an applicant’s fingerprints, USCIS requires criminal background checks conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) through its National Name Check Program (NNCP) for individuals applying for the following immigration benefits:

  • Asylum
  • Adjustment of Status
  • Naturalization
  • Cancellation of removal
  • Withholding of removal
  • Waivers

Similar to fingerprint screenings, the purpose of NNCP background checks is to protect the United States from espionage and terrorism. To arrive at their findings, NNCP collects and cross-references records from U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies. In total, USCIS requests nearly half of all checks made through NNCP. For most requests, name checks on AOS applicants are returned to USCIS as having “no record” within three days of original submission.

Our Firm is Here to Help

Given the often complicated process and the high stakes—a chance at permanent residency in the United States—involved, it’s imperative that aliens seeking adjustment consult with an experienced immigration attorney. To begin your potential AOS case, contact Zhang & Associates for an initial free consultation by clicking here.

For more detailed information on adjustment of status, including related issues, refer to the following links:

Updated 08/10/2017


Sours: https://www.hooyou.com/i-485/background.html
How Does a Background Check Help You in Immigration?
Hi William,

My EB1Extraordinary Ability (EB-1A) application has been approved. Thank you very much for the help of your Do It Yourself package of EB-1A. Now my I-485 application is pending. I called the USCIS Customer Service Help Line for my case progress, and was told that it is in the process of "background security check". What kind of checks will be included in this background security check?

Answer,

To ensure that immigration benefits are given only to eligible applicants, USCIS adopted background security check procedures that address a wide range of possible risk factors. Different kinds of applications undergo different levels of scrutiny. USCIS normally uses the following three background check mechanisms but maintains the authority to conduct other background investigations as necessary:

1) The Interagency Border Inspection System (IBIS) Name Check— IBIS is a multi-agency effort with a central system that combines information from multiple agencies, databases and system interfaces to compile data relating to national security risks, public safety issues and other law enforcement concerns.

2) FBI Fingerprint Check—FBI fingerprint checks are conducted for many applications. The FBI fingerprint check provides information relating to criminal background within the United States. Generally, the FBI forwards responses to USCIS within 24-48 hours. If there is a record match, the FBI forwards an electronic copy of the criminal history (RAP sheet) to USCIS.

3) FBI Name Checks—FBI name checks are also required for many applications. The FBI name check is totally different from the FBI fingerprint check. The records maintained in the FBI name check process consist of administrative, applicant, criminal, personnel and other files compiled by law enforcement. Initial responses to this check generally take about two weeks. In about 80 percent of the cases, no match is found.



Sours: https://greencardapply.com/question/question16/I485_Background_Check_020116.htm

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Green Card Applications and Criminal Records

What Criminal Convictions Will Impact my Chances of Getting a Green Card?

Convictions that will negatively affect your green card application are aggravated felonies, crimes of “moral turpitude,” or illegal drug involvement. You can read about each of these conviction types in this section.

Aggravated Felony

Under U.S. immigration law, an aggravated felony is one of a list of misdemeanor and felony crimes that the U.S. Congress has set. Aggravated felonies include murder, sexual abuse of a minor, money laundering, drug trafficking, human trafficking, among others. If you commit an aggravated felony, you will be “inadmissible” to the United States. 

Crimes of “Moral Turpitude”

U.S. immigration law describes a crime of “moral turpitude” as a crime committed with “evil intent.” The way U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) decides that a criminal conviction involves “evil intent” is entirely subjective. Generally, USCIS determines that someone committed a crime with “evil intent'' based on whether the immigration courts and USCIS have previously decided in a similar criminal case that the crime’s intent was malicious.

Some criminal convictions that USCIS has described as under “moral turpitude” include:

These crimes make you “inadmissible” to the United States. Sometimes you can waive inadmissibility for some crimes of “moral turpitude” in the immigration process. This means you can ask USCIS to make an exception for you. However, it is complicated to waive inadmissibility due to violent crimes and those involving torture. And a murder conviction disqualifies you from getting a green card altogether. If a court has found you guilty, or you pled guilty to a crime of moral turpitude and would like to waive it, it’s a good idea to speak with an immigration attorney. 

Illegal Drug Involvement

Drug-related criminal convictions can also affect your green card application. For immigration law purposes, drug involvement covers drug trafficking, personal use convictions, and possession of controlled substances convictions. Drug crimes involving more than 30 grams of controlled substances will make you inadmissible, which generally disqualifies you from applying for U.S. lawful permanent residence. 

If you have only one drug conviction, and it was for carrying 30 grams or fewer of cannabis, you may be able to apply for a waiver of inadmissibility. The process is complicated, however, and it would help to reach out to an immigration lawyer. 

Sours: https://www.immigrationhelp.org/learning-center/how-do-criminal-records-affect-green-card-applications


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