Refugee Travel Document
Most refugees or asylees, or persons who have become a permanent resident as a result of being a refugee or asylee in the U.S., will need to apply for a Refugee Travel Document if planning to travel outside the U.S. Attempting to reenter the U.S. without such a document will result in you being inadmissible, unless you are in possession of a valid advance parole document. However, the travel document does not relieve you of any of the requirements of the U.S. immigration laws. Mere possession of refugee travel document does not guarantee admission into the U.S. as you are still subject to immigration inspection at the port of entry to determine admissibility into the U.S. You also may be subject to "secondary inspection" where you will be taken into a separate room and asked questions.

Eligibility
You can apply for a refugee travel document if you are in the U.S. as a:
  • Refugee or Asylee and have valid status

  • Became a permanent resident in the U.S. through your refugee or asylee status.

You can't apply for a refugee travel document:
  • If you currently have a refugee travel document, unless the past document has been returned to the USCIS, or you can prove it was lost; or

  • If a notice was published in the Federal Register that prohibits the issuance of such a document for travel to the area where you plan to travel.

Validity
  • The validity of a refugee travel document is for one year or to the date the refugee or asylee status expires whichever comes first.

  • Refugee travel document may not be extended.

Documents
A separate application form, fees and set of documents are required for each applicant (including yourself, each of your family members) who needs to travel.
  • Application fee must be sent with the application.

    There is also a biometric fee.

    Fee details

  • Form I-131, Application For Travel Document

    Sample I131

  • Photos
    Submit 2 identical photographs.

  • Copy of an official photo identity document that shows your name, photo and date of birth. e.g., a government issued valid driver's license, identity page of passport, permanent resident card or any other official identity document.

  • Form I-94 can't be used as a photo identity document.

  • Include a copy of the document showing your refugee or asylee status and the expiration date of such status you received from USCIS or former INS.
Filing The Application

Application filing instructions

USCIS Phoenix or Dallas Lockbox, based on where you live:
  • Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Guam or the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands

    USCIS Phoenix Lockbox
    U.S. Postal Service (USPS) Deliveries

    USCIS
    PO Box 21281
    Phoenix, AZ 85036
    Express mail and courier deliveries:

    USCIS
    Attn: AOS
    1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S,
    Suite 100
    Phoenix, AZ 85034
  • If you live in Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, U.S. Virgin Islands, or West Virginia

    USCIS Dallas Lockbox
    For U.S. Postal Service (USPS) Deliveries

    USCIS
    PO Box 660867
    Dallas, TX 75266
    For Express mail and courier deliveries:

    USCIS
    Attn: AOS
    2501 S. State Hwy. 121, Business
    Suite 400
    Lewisville, TX 75067
E-Notification
If you are filing at a USCIS Lockbox facility, you may elect to receive an email and/or text message (SMS) notifying you that your application has been accepted.

You must complete Form G-1145, E-Notification of your application.

Biometric Services Requirement
Applicants between the age 14 through 79 years must be fingerprinted. Some time after USCIS receives your application, they will notify you in writing of the time and locationi where you must go to get fingerprinted, and if necessary, they may take your photograph and signature.

If you don't appear for your biometric appointment, your application will be denied.

Appeal
If the application is denied, you will receive a letter from USCIS explaining how to appeal. The appeal must be done within 33 days after receiving the denial letter and filed on Form I-290-B. Mail Form I-290-B to the office that made the original decision. Once appeal form and fee are processed, the case is then referred to the Administrative Appeals Unit (AAU) in Washington, DC.

Refugee Travel Document
You must be physically present in the U.S. when filing the application. Leaving the U.S. before a decision has been decided does not affect the application. Although, you may request your refugee travel document to be sent to a U.S. embassy or consulate or Department of Homeland Security (DHS) office abroad when you file the application. There is a place on the Form I-131 to furnish the information necessary to receive the refugee travel document outside of the U.S. However, under certain circumstances if you did not apply for a refugee travel document before departure you may be eligible to apply abroad. It's at the discretion of the district director having jurisdiction over a port-of-entry or a pre-inspection station where an alien is an applicant for admission, or an overseas district director having jurisdiction over the place where an alien is physically present granted:
  • Applicant must submit Form I-131, with appropriate fee;

  • You did not plan to abandon your refugee status at the time of departure from the U.S. concluded by the district director;

  • You did not participate in any activities while outside the U.S. that would jeopardize your refugee or aslyee status;

  • You have been outside the U.S. for less than one year since your last departure.

Invalidation
The travel document will be invalid if you obtained it by making a false representation or concealment in the application, or if you are ordered removed or deported from the U.S. If United Nations Convention of July 28, 1951, cease to apply or shall not apply to you as provided in Article 1C, D, E or F of the Convention than the refugee travel document is invalid.