New Policy Requires Applicants to be Fingerprinted before Departing the United States
Permanent residents applying for reentry permits in order to travel back to the United States after a long absence must now appear for a biometrics appointment at a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office before departing the United States. The new agency policy could delay applicants who have imminent plans to travel abroad.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) now requires lawful permanent residents age 14 through 79 who have filed an application for a reentry permit to provide biometrics at a USCIS Application Support Center (ASC) appointment prior to departing the United States. The new requirement also applies to individuals who are applying for refugee travel documents. Because reentry permit and refugee travel document applicants must wait for a USCIS appointment notice in order to have their biometrics taken, the new requirement could delay those individuals who have imminent plans to travel abroad.
According to new instructions to Form I-131, the USCIS form used to apply for travel documents, reentry permit applicants will receive an ASC appointment notice after their application is filed. If the applicant departs the United States before biometrics are collected, the instructions indicate that the reentry permit application may be denied. Many foreign nationals have inquired about the possibility of providing biometrics at a U.S. consulate abroad. The instructions, however, do not provide a clear mechanism for reentry permit applicants to have biometrics collected outside the United States. FRAGOMEN is seeking further clarification on this issue.
Applicants requiring expedited processing should submit an email address and fax number along with two pre-paid, self-addressed express mailers along with the Form I-131. If USCIS approves the expedite request, the pre-paid express mailers will be used to return the ASC appointment notice and the reentry permit once the application has been adjudicated.