USCIS Announces Biometric Changes for Re-Entry Permits and Refugee Travel Documents

Murali Bashyam

USCIS issued revised instructions for USCIS Form I-131, Application for Travel Document. The instructions, which became effective March 5, 2008, require that applicants for re-entry permits and refugee travel documents provide biometrics (e.g., fingerprints and photographs) at a USCIS Application Support Center (ASC) for background and security checks.  USCIS will notify applicants of their appointment at the designated ASC after submission of the I-131 application.
The new instructions for Form I-131 require that applicants for re-entry permits and refugee travel documents between the ages of 14 through 79 to provide biometrics before departing from the United States. Applicants also are strongly encouraged to apply, whenever possible, well in advance of their anticipated travel dates to allow time to attend their ASC appointments and to receive their travel documents. Shortly after filing an I-131 form for a Refugee Travel Document or a RE-entry Permit, USCIS will mail the applicant his or her receipt and an ASC scheduling notice. The I-131 instructions also provide guidance for certain persons who are abroad at the time of filing to visit a U.S. Embassy or consulate for fingerprinting, although all applicants are urged to file before leaving the United States.
The instructions also discuss the requirement for applicants for re-entry permits and refugee travel documents who are in the United States to pay the $80 biometrics services fee, or to submit a biometrics fee waiver request with sufficient documentation to support their inability to pay the fee. As in the past, the application fee for the I-131 form cannot be waived.
In addition, if applicants require expedited processing, the instructions provide specific information for submitting pre-paid express mailers with the I-131 for USCIS to send the applicant his or her receipt and ASC appointment notice, as well as the completed Re-entry Permit or Refugee Travel Document, if approved. A request for expedited processing should contain the applicant’s reasons for such processing.
More information will be posted at when it becomes available.

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