Last month, we discussed the four most common errors that alien flight students make in the fingerprinting process. The errors that we discussed last month are the most common, but many more exist. There are several possible ways to make a mistake, making it easy to get overly cautious and move at a slower pace to ensure that things are being done correctly. However, this can slow the process too much and end up hurting your students. Here are three proven ways to speed up the approval process.
Tip 1: Get Ready for Action
Much like any process that needs to be completed quickly, the fingerprinting process is no different. Make sure your students are prepared to be fingerprinted when the process begins and that they have the Fingerprint Instructions email prior to beginning the fingerprinting process. As mentioned in last month’s blog post, collecting your students’ prints prior to receiving these instructions will result in the cancellation of the training request numbers by TSA and will force the process to start over again. Avoid a false start by ensuring that your students are ready to begin the process.
Tip 2: Dot Your I’s and Cross Your T’s
Next, make sure all information sent to the Alien Flight Student Program (AFSP) is accurate. Transposed names, dates of birth, and numbers in passports and visas are critical pieces of information. As such, the information should be listed correctly. We train collectors in our network to verify identification against paperwork and identify discrepancies in documentation. If we find a discrepancy, the student will need to contact the AFSP Help Desk and update the information. The student will then need to be issued new fingerprint instruction emails for the training request numbers before getting fingerprinted so that all of the documentation is accurate.
Tip 3: Remember That Life Is About Choices
The third tip relates to the location for fingerprinting. At this point, the student has two choices: an NFCC/NATA certified collector or a local law enforcement office (NFCC/NATA Certifiec Collector or U.S. Embassy for students overseas). If the student chooses a law enforcement agency, he/she should call to verify:
- whether that specific law enforcement agency takes prints for the AFSP program
- discuss availability
- discuss who provides the required fingerprint cards
Availability and participation varies wildly. Some places have a two- to three-week waiting list for fingerprinting appointments. Some do not perform fingerprinting at all. Furthermore, it is a requirement that all students who go to a law enforcement office or to a U.S. Embassy are escorted by a representative of their flight school(s). The prints must then be mailed to the fingerprint processing center. This can be a long process, and several factors can prolong the process, most of which are out of your control. If the student chooses to use an NFCC/NATA collector, his/her prints will be sent electronically, and the student will not need an escort. The student can visit our site, find a collector in his/her area, make an appointment and get printed. This is a considerably faster option and potentially shortens the process by two or more weeks. This means that your students are up in the air and out of limbo!
In the end, being diligent and making the right choices can help speed up the fingerprinting process. Making sure your student is ready and that all information is correct will help, but in the end, where you get your student printed will make the most difference. If you don’t see a collector in your area, you can become one for little or no upfront cost.