U.S. Immigration Fingerprints Abroad
Almost all immigration applications require that an applicant comply with the biometrics requirement and appear for a fingerprinting procedure in the US. Previously, U.S. Immigration fingerprints were not collected abroad.
This is especially true for such important applications as Re-Entry Permit for lawful permanent residents , Advance Parole and Refugee/Asylee Travel documents. All these applications should be submitted to USCIS using form I-131. After the submission, according to the instructions, the approved documents (that look almost like passports) can be shipped overseas. For example, due to an urgent travel an applicant cannot remain in the US and have to leave before he/she receives the document. In such cases, USCIS can send the document either to the overseas consulate or a specified address abroad. What the instructions do not say is that prior to departure, the applicant must appear for fingerprinting appointment in the US. For years, there was no exception to this rule, and one would miss such an appointment and depart the US, would face significant difficulties coming back as there was no way for the applicant to comply with the biometrics procedure overseas.
Recently, USCIS allowed applicants to comply with the biometrics requirement outside the US. Biometrics collection for certain applications, such as a Form I-131, Application for Reentry Permit, may be taken at a USCIS office abroad, even if the collection was originally scheduled at an ASC office in the United States. This is available to residents of countries where USCIS has an international office. For example, Russia, Germany.
Only those can demonstrate urgent and severe circumstances will be allowed to comply with the procedure overseas. In addition, the applicant would have to demonstrate that he/she tried to expedite or reschedule the fingerprinting appointment. It means that one who has I-131 pending and has to leave the country urgently, still has to show his/her attempts to comply with the regular procedure.
Examples of urgent circumstances may include: an urgent job assignment, a need to take care of a family member that requires urgency, etc.
The new procedure will help thousands who previously did not have a choice and had to either miss an important presence overseas or forego US immigration benefits or jeopardize their status to comply with U.S. Immigration fingerprints abroad.