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How to Apply for Refugee/Asylee Travel Documents

How to Apply for Refugee/Asylee Travel Documents

A regular misconception for asylees and refugees is that they cannot travel outside of the U.S. because they will not be allowed back into the country. Another misconception is that they are free to travel as long as they have been approved for asylum or refugee status without adequately preparing. The whole picture is that, yes, as an asylee or refugee you can temporarily travel outside of the U.S., but you will need the correct documentation in order to do that without any complications.

Here is What You Need to Know About Traveling as a U.S. Refugee or Asylee

You are eligible to apply for a refugee/asylee travel document if you have been approved for either refugee or asylee status and are present in the U.S. when applying.

Obtain and Submit the Proper Application - You will need to fill out form I-131 which can be found at the USCIS website.

Include Appropriate Paperwork - You will need to provide immigration status documentation that you are either an asylee or refugee. This can be a copy (do not send the original) of your stamped paperwork from an immigration judge. Include the filing fee, and the biometrics fee (if required based on your age). Finally, you’ll need two passport-style photos. Other persons traveling with you (if they are also eligible) will need to fill out their own application.

Await Confirmation and Appointment Time - In a few weeks after you’ve sent in your application, USCIS will send you information about your biometrics appointment where your fingerprints and photo will be taken.

Plan Ahead - Your travel approval document can take anywhere between 2-or-6 months to acquire, so you’ll need to plan ahead if you are going to be traveling. If you apply for your document outside of the U.S. and it’s denied, you will likely have a challenge re-entering the country. Speak with an immigration lawyer about this if it has happened to you.

Your Travel Document Expires - Your travel document is not a permanent document and will expire one year after the date of issue. Be sure to keep an eye on the dates, so it does not expire while you are outside of the United States. Also, these documents cannot be “extended” so if you want to travel again, beyond the date of your travel documentation, you’ll need to reapply.

*Tip - You will want to avoid traveling to the country you’ve claimed asylum from. When USCIS sees that you have gone back to that country, they may assume you are no longer afraid to be in that country. This may conflict with your asylum or refugee claim and trigger deportation or removal proceedings.

Can we help you with your travel documentation or other immigration-related challenges? At Landerholm Immigration, APC our immigration lawyers, green card attorneys and other legal professionals are ready to help. Give us a call or connect with us online to start your appointment.


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