All lawful permanent residents of US age through 14 to 79 applying for re-entry permit and individuals applying for refugee travel document will now be required to provide Biometrics i.e. finger prints and photographs at a USCIS Application Support Center (“ASC”) for background and security checks.
USCIS has stated that biometrics is not only vital to the security of the immigration process, it also in compliance with congressional mandates for issuance of secure documents. According USCIS, the biometric information will be a big deterrent to frauds.
What is a re-entry permit?
A re-entry permit allows a permanent resident to re-enter the United States without having to obtain a returning resident visa. Re-entry permits are generally applied for when the resident plans to stay outside of the United States for six months or more. For refugees, a refugee travel document is issued instead and they must have this document in order to re-enter the United States after any travel abroad.
How does it work?
As per the new instruction, once the USCIS receives the Form I-131 filed by any resident, the agency will mail the ASC appointment notice along with the receipt. To speed up the process, applicants are allowed so enclose pre-paid express mailers with the Form I-131. By sending two such mailers, applicants can ensure that both the Biometrics appointment schedule as well as the approved Re-entry Permit or Refugee Travel Document will reach faster then traditional mail. In this case, the applicant is required to mention the reason for needing the expedited service.
This revised instruction for the Form I-131, Application for Travel Document came into effective on March 5, 2008. The changes will likely to cause delay for those individuals who had plans to travel abroad in the recent future as applicants will be scheduled for a biometric appointment only after they submit Form I-131.