You may file Form I-131, Application for Travel Document to obtain a refugee travel document. An individual who is granted asylum or refugee status in the United States may take a quick trip abroad if he holds a refugee travel document. As an asylee or a refugee, if you travel abroad without a travel document, you will not be permitted to return to the United States. To travel hassle-free, you must obtain this document before leaving the United States.
A refugee travel document will allow you to travel abroad and return to the US. However, you cannot travel as soon as you file your application. You must appear for biometrics before leaving the country as your application will not be considered if you miss your biometrics appointment.
After you file an application for a refugee travel document and appear for your biometrics, you may embark on your trip. In this case, you may request the USCIS to mail your travel document to the overseas consulate from where you can collect your document. You may also travel abroad after receiving your travel document. You are likely to receive your refugee travel document within three or four months from the date of your application. Hence, you must apply for a travel document as soon as you plan your trip.
If you travel abroad without a travel document, a USCIS office abroad can exercise its discretion to accept your application. However, don’t assume the USCIS will use its discretion to accept your application especially if it is clear that you could have filed your application before leaving the United States. Also, you can file I-131 abroad only if you have been abroad for less than a year.
The refugee travel document is valid for a year. You cannot renew a travel document. As a refugee or asylee, you may use this document in place of a passport. A travel document also resembles a US passport.
Eligible dependents of refugees and asylees also must obtain refugee travel documents to travel abroad. People who are granted refugee status or asylum in the United States will be placed in removal proceedings or they may not be allowed to re-enter the United States if they travel abroad without a travel document.
If you obtained your green card based on your refugee or asylee status, you may file Form I-131, Application for Travel Document to get a re-entry permit, if you wish to remain abroad for less than 2 years. When you file Form I-131 for a travel document, you must report for your biometrics appointment before you depart the US.
A person who has filed Form I-485 may file Form I-131 for an advance parole document if he seeks to travel abroad while his petition is still pending.