Refugee Travel Document – How to Obtain One?

A refugee or asylee can apply for permanent resident status (Green Card) in the United States after one year of being granted asylum or refugee status. You have to file Form I-485, which registers Permanent Residence and changes the status of asylee to a permanent resident of the US. To qualify for a permanent resident status you should be physically present in the United States in asylee status for at least a year before filing the Form I-485.

As a refugee can you apply for Permanent Resident Status?

As an asylee or refugee, you are authorized to work in the United States. If you want to receive a document from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that can serve as proof of both your work authorization and identity, you have to file Form I-765 with the USCIS.

As per the rules of USCIS, you may apply to change from refugee status to lawful Permanent Resident Status if you have been staying in the USA for a at least a year from the date you were actually approved asylum status or refugee status.

You are allowed to travel outside the USA in the refugee status even when your I-485 is pending. However, you must produce a legal Refugee Travel Document to re enter the US. You can apply for a travel document through Form I-131, Application for Travel Document and this has to be filed with the USCIS.

How to get a refugee travel document?

All asylum adjustment applications and all refugee adjustment applications have to be mailed to the Nebraska Service Center. All concurrently filed Forms I-131 (Travel Document) and/or Form I-765 (Employment Authorization) should also be mailed to the Nebraska Service Center.

A refugee travel document is valid for one year, or to the date the refugee or asylee status actually expires, whichever comes first. If you are admitted in refugee status or granted asylum, you are eligible to apply for Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) status one year after you were admitted in refugee status or granted asylum.

Individuals who apply for re entry permits or refugee travel documents already have legal status and are only applying to receive a document giving them the travel benefits associated with this status. The way these individuals are applying for a benefit can be compared to the benefit sought by U.S. citizens who apply for a passport. However, a U.S. citizen applying for a passport pays less than a non-citizen does to obtain a refugee travel document or reentry permit.

Refugees and asylees granted LPR status must wait another 5 years to apply for citizenship, and longer still to be naturalized, at which point they finally are eligible to obtain a U.S. passport.

Form I-131, Application for Travel Document

Form I-131 is the application for Travel Document, which supports re entry to the U.S. after temporary travel abroad. Form I-131 is for individuals who want to travel while their Form I-485, Application to Adjust Status to Permanent Resident is pending and asylees and refugees who are seeking to travel. Additionally this form is used by Lawful Permanent Residents who are applying for a Re entry Permit because they will be outside the U.S. for one year or more.