The Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) recently dismissed an appeal
brought by a foreign national who applied for a re-entry permit while outside of the Continental United States. The regulation at 8 C.F.R. § 223.2 (b) states in pertinent part that except as otherwise provided, an application may be approved if filed by a person who is in the United States at the time of application and is a lawful permanent resident or conditional permanent resident.
In the aforementioned case, the applicant filed Form I-131, Application for Travel Document with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on April 24, 2006. On July 24, 2006, a request for additional evidence (RFE) was issued asking the applicant to produce evidencing indicating his actual date of departure from the United States. The applicant replied with evidence that he had departed the U.S. on February 28, 2006. The applicant did not dispute that he was outside of the U.S. when he filed Form I-131; however, he explained that he was only attempting to extend his expired travel document.
According to the regulations, an applicant may not extend an expired travel document; they must surrender their expired travel document and apply for a new travel document with the USCIS.
Accordingly, the regulations provide no exception for the physical presence requirements at the time of filing a Form I-131. Furthermore, the AAO concluded that since the application was not filed until after the applicant had departed the U.S., the application may not be approved as a matter of law.
The MVP Law Group, P.A. strongly recommends that applicants who intend to submit any petition with the USCIS do so while they are physically present in the United States. It is not wise nor beneficial to submit a form to the USCIS while outside of the U.S. Doing so may result in a substantial loss of money, time and status.