Discover a little-known fact: asylum applicants can travel abroad while their asylum applications are being processed, following specific steps.
What is a Refugee Travel Document?
A Refugee Travel Document is a crucial travel document for individuals with refugee or asylum status in the United States. It serves as a substitute for a passport in most cases and allows you to travel outside the U.S. while ensuring your ability to return.
How to Apply for a Refugee Travel Document
To initiate the application process, you need to complete Form I-131, known as the “Application for Travel Document.” Connect Jeelani Law Firm to learn more about this possibility and explore your options.
Validity of a Refugee Travel Document
Once issued, a Refugee Travel Document remains valid for up to one year. It’s essential to plan your travels accordingly within this timeframe.
Timing is Key
If you’ve been granted asylum or refugee status and intend to travel abroad, it’s advisable to file Form I-131 for a Refugee Travel Document before leaving the United States. It is recommended to submit the application no less than 60 days before your planned departure date.
Exception for Overseas Filing
In exceptional cases where you have already left the United States and have been outside the country for less than one year, a USCIS office overseas may consider your application. However, it’s crucial to note that this discretion is not guaranteed, especially if it is evident that you could have filed the form before departing the United States.
Filing Form I-131 While Abroad
You can file Form I-131 while you are abroad, and your physical presence in the United States is not mandatory for USCIS to approve your application and issue a Refugee Travel Document. If your biometrics (photograph and fingerprints) have been obtained, you can send your Refugee Travel Document to a U.S. Embassy, consulate, or DHS office overseas for collection.
When filing Form I-131, instructions for biometrics collection at a designated Application Support Center (ASC) within the United States will be given. It’s essential to complete this step before departing the U.S. If you leave the country before providing biometrics, USCIS may deny your application.
Traveling to Your Country of Origin
Traveling back to the country where you experienced past persecution or claiming a fear of future persecution is allowed only for specific circumstances. However, certain risks are associated with such travel. If you have been granted asylum, your asylum status may be terminated if it’s determined that you have voluntarily availed yourself of the protection of your country of nationality, acquired a new nationality, or are no longer eligible for asylum due to a fundamental change in circumstances. Discuss with our attorneys at Jeelani Law Firm.
Maintaining Refugee or Asylee Status
To avoid any complications regarding your refugee or asylee status, it’s essential to be prepared to explain your travel patterns and demonstrate that you have not re-availed yourself of the protection of your home country. Travel that suggests a return to the country from which you fled should be carefully explained to immigration authorities to avoid losing your refugee or asylee status.
In conclusion, while traveling as a refugee or asylee can be a rewarding experience, it comes with legal considerations that must be addressed. Contact Jeelani Law Firm today for assistance with your immigration needs!