Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Fingerprinting for re-entry permits

It is common, and recommended, for US permanent residents to file for re-entry permits if they will be spending long periods of time outside the US. In 2008, USCIS introduced a new requirement that applicants for re-entry permits needed to be fingerprinted before the permit would be issued. The biometric regulations were unclear as to whether an application would be abandoned if the foreign national left the US before having biometrics taken. The American Immigration Lawyers Association now believes that foreign nationals can leave the US and return for biometrics.

Biometric appointments are normally scheduled within about 30 days of CIS getting the I-131 (the application form for re-entry permits). However, foreign nationals often need to travel outside the US, usually to assume or resume the foreign position, sooner than 30 days after filing. In that case, the applicant can request expedited scheduling of the biometric appointment.

If the applicant gets an appointment and must leave before that date, she can try to walk into an Application Support Center (ASC, the office that takes biometrics) with proof of the imminent departure, and see if the ASC will take the biometrics. If the ASC refuses this request, or if the applicant does not get the appointment until after she has already left the US, she can reschedule. She can request a specific date, but CIS cannot schedule appointments more than 30 days in advance.

It is very important to attend the biometrics appointment, or request a reschedule to avoid the application being denied due to abandonment. The foreign national could reapply, but this is expensive and cumbersome.

1 comment:

  1. If the LPR departs from the U.S while the I-131 is pending, but before biometrics are taken, then the adjudication of the I-131 re-entry permit application will not be affected as long as the applicant returns to the U.S. to attend the biometrics appointment before the first year of foreign travel has ended. In such case, the LPR could apply for reentry to the U.S. using only his or her I-551 Permanent Resident Card if he has been absent for less than one year. We further note that if it is necessary, the LPR may make arrangements to have his Re-entry Permit delivered to him through a U.S. consulate or a USCIS office abroad. 8 C.F.R. 223.2(f).