Whenever a person applies for a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities (CRD) or a Certificate of Good Conduct (CGC) from the NY Department of Corrections (DOC), the DOC currently requires—as part of the application process—that the applicant undergo an in-person investigation/interview from an assigned parole officer. This investigation/interview is meant for the officer to evaluate the applicant's current living situation. Therefore, the applicant would need to be available personally/in-person (not simply by phone), and would also need to be a current resident of NY.
However, in the event the applicant is currently living in another state, the DOC currently requires that the applicant's current state of residence be able and willing to conduct that in-person investigation/interview of the applicant on NY's behalf. Unfortunately, not all states are willing to expend their resources to conduct that investigation/interview for the applicant, especially if the applicant is no longer under any kind of custody or supervision (probation, parole, etc.). This is currently the policy in states such as Arizona and Florida.
Currently, the law provides that a person may apply for a CRD directly from the court he/she was convicted if he/she has no more than one felony (and any number of misdemeanors). Although the court process also requires a small investigation/interview with a probation officer, the court process is typically less formal than the DOC process and the investigation/interview involved can usually be conducted over the phone if the person cannot appear in person.
For someone who is not eligible to apply for a CRD from the court (such as those with 2 or more felony convictions), he can only submit his application with the DOC. However, if that person is currently residing in a state like Arizona or Florida (which is not willing to conduct courtesy investigations/interviews for NY), he would not be able to go through the DOC process either. That person would either have to return to NY and take up residence there, OR find an alternative relief such as applying for a gubernatorial pardon (which is rarely granted).