USCIS Able to Collect Biometrics Abroad in Rare Circumstances25 May 2016
Many types of immigration forms submitted to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) require the applicant to provide biometrics at an office in the United States. The USCIS has recently confirmed, however, that in “rare circumstances,” the agency has the discretion to allow such an applicant to provide the biometrics at a USCIS international field office.
Biometrics Collected at USCIS Offices in the U.S.
After applying for certain immigration benefits, such as an employment authorization document (form I-765) or a reentry permit (form I-131), the USCIS typically will schedule the applicant for an appointment to submit biometrics at an Application Support Center (ASC) in the United States. In most situations, failure to comply with the biometrics requirement will be considered an abandonment of the case and lead to a denial. Thus, biometrics requirements and timing need to be carefully considered when making travel plans.
Collection of Biometrics at International Immigration Offices
As explained on the webpages for each individual international immigration field office, the USCIS can collect fingerprints in specified, restricted circumstances. As of this writing, the USCIS has such offices in twenty-one countries.
General Criteria for Requesting Collection of Biometrics Abroad
If the applicant or beneficiary resides in the United States, but is in a country that has an overseas USCIS office, the requirements to request that the biometrics be collected at the foreign office are:
- There must be a biometrics appointment scheduled with an ASC in the U.S.
- The applicant must establish that extenuating circumstances required her/his departure from the U.S. prior to submission of the biometrics.
- The applicant must show that a request was made prior to leaving the U.S. for an expedited or rescheduled appointment; or, if no request was made, the applicant must explain the reason for failing to make such a request.
If the applicant or beneficiary resides overseas, the requirements to request that the biometrics be collected abroad are:
- The individual must reside in a country with a USCIS office.
- S/he must provide “evidence of the compelling circumstances or hardship that would prevent the …” individual from returning to the United States for the biometrics appointment. The USCIS further notes that the expense of having to return to the U.S., in and of itself, would generally not be considered a sufficient hardship to grant such a request.
The USCIS emphasizes that its capacity to collect biometrics abroad is very limited and indicates that such requests will not be granted in ordinary circumstances. Applicants and beneficiaries for these types of cases should plan accordingly.
Copyright © 2016, MURTHY LAW FIRM. All Rights Reserved