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Refugee Travel Document Processing Time: How to Solve Timing Issues

Refugee Travel Document Processing Time

Are you in the United States in refugee or asylum status?

 

If so, you will need a refugee travel document to travel outside of the United States. A refugee travel document is a small booklet, similar to a passport, and is necessary to travel if you are a refugee or asylee. Without a refugee travel document, you may be unable to reenter the United States, or you may potentially face removal proceedings.

 

In this guide, I’ll discuss the refugee travel document processing time. I will also discuss how to overcome timing issues if you must leave the United States urgently. If you have any questions, you may email me directly at Michael@AshooriLaw.com.

 

Overview:

 

  1. Refugee Travel Document Processing Time

 

  1. How to Overcome Timing Issues

 

  1. What to Avoid: Travel to Your Country of Claimed Persecution

 

  1. Conclusion

 

1. Refugee Travel Document Processing Time

 

There are 4 main steps throughout the process of getting a refugee travel document.

 

  1. Issuance of USCIS Receipt Notice

 

  1. Issuance of Biometrics Appointment Notice

 

  1. Actual Biometrics Appointment Date

 

  1. Issuance of Actual Refugee Travel Document

 

 

1. Issuance of USCIS Receipt Notice (1 to 3 Weeks from Filing)

 

The first step in getting a refugee travel document is to file Form I-131 with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The Form I-131 is the Application for Travel Document. Once this form is filed, USCIS will mail you a receipt notice. The receipt notice is the confirmation that USCIS has received your case. This notice will also have a unique receipt number which can be used to track your case through the USCIS case status tracker. The USCIS receipt notice should come in the mail within 1 to 3 weeks of filing your Form I-131.

 

2. Issuance of Biometrics Appointment Notice (4-6 Weeks from Filing)

 

To get a refugee travel document, you must attend a mandatory biometrics appointment. At the biometrics appointment, your digital fingerprints are taken. Before your biometrics appointment, you are sent a biometrics appointment notice. This notice typically comes about 6 weeks from the time you file your refugee travel document application. The biometrics appointment notice specifies the time and date of the biometrics appointment. The appointment notice also includes important information about what you are required to bring with you to the biometrics appointment and how to reschedule the appointment if necessary.

 

3. Actual Biometrics Appointment Date (6-8 Weeks from Filing)

 

The actual biometrics appointment usually takes place about 8 weeks from the time the I-131 is filed with USCIS. Make sure to attend the correct USCIS Application Support Center as listed on the appointment notice. In addition, make sure to bring a valid form of identification such as a Driver’s License or passport.

 

4. Issuance of Actual Refugee Travel Document (2 to 5 Months from Filing)


Your actual refugee travel document should be issued within about 2 to 5 months from filing your Form I-131. You may request that the actual document be sent to your U.S. address, your attorneys address (if you choose to work with an attorney), or to a U.S. consulate or embassy abroad.

 

To find out the current USCIS processing time, you may also use the USCIS Case Check Processing Times resource.

 

2. How to Overcome Timing Issues

 

The Major Timing Issue: Physical Presence Requirement

 

As a refugee or asylee in the United States, you should ideally be physically present in the United States when your refugee travel document application is filed with USCIS.

 

You are still eligible to apply for a refugee travel document if you are outside of the United States, assuming your departure from the U.S. was less than a year before the application was filed. However, if you are outside of the U.S. when the application is filed, the USCIS director with jurisdiction over your case has discretion over whether to approve or deny your case.

 

For this reason, it is best practice to remain in the United States until you receive your refugee travel document. However, many people have an urgent need to leave the United States and cannot wait 2 to 5 months for the refugee travel document to be produced.

 

Now let’s discuss some potential solutions.

 

Leaving After the Biometrics Appointment

 

If you cannot remain in the United States until the actual refugee travel document is produced, one option is to leave after attending your biometrics appointment. On the application for refugee travel document, you can request that the document be sent to a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. The biometrics appointment is typically scheduled to take place roughly 8 weeks after filing the refugee travel document application. This would considerably shorten the amount of time you are required to remain in the United States.

 

Expedited Processing

 

Another potential option is to request expedited processing of your refugee travel document application. In certain cases, USCIS will grant expedited processing of a case. Here is a link to the reasons why USCIS may grant expedited processing of a case.

 

Some reasons USCIS may expedite a case are as follows:

 

  • Emergency situation
  • USCIS error
  • Severe financial loss to person or company
  • Compelling interest of USCIS
  • Humanitarian reason

 

If you plan to request expedited processing from USCIS make sure that you have a good reason supported by evidence. Expedite requests are granted on a case by case basis and are granted at the discretion of the office leadership.

 

Please send us an email if you have any questions about requesting expedited processing of your case.

 

Applying While You Are Outside of the United States

 

In some cases, you may be eligible to apply for a refugee travel document while you are outside of the United States. To be eligible to apply for a refugee travel document while you are outside of the U.S. you must apply within 1 year of your last departure from the U.S. You will have to include an explanation as to why you left the U.S. without first applying for a refugee travel document. The USCIS official with jurisdiction over your case will have the discretion to approve or deny your application.

 

 

3. What to Avoid: Travel to Your Country of Claimed Persecution

 

As someone with refugee or asylum status in the United States, traveling back to your country of claimed prosecution can have severe consequences to your immigration status in the United States. Such travel may be seen as a demonstration that your fear of persecution from that country is not genuine. In addition, such travel may be interpreted as a demonstration that you have voluntarily availed yourself to the protection of that country.

 

Which respect to the country from which you are a refugee or asylee, the I-131 requires you to answer the following questions:

 

  • Do you plan to travel to the country from which you are a refugee or asylee?

 

  • Since you were accorded refugee or asylee status, have you ever returned to the country from which you are a refugee or asylee?

 

Answering yes to either of these questions requires a written explanation along with your application and can be harmful to your chances of approval for a refugee travel document.

 

 

4. Conclusion

 

As a refugee or asylee in the United States, you must have a refugee travel document to travel outside of the country. Leaving the United States without a refugee travel document, you may be unable to reenter, or you may face removal proceedings. For this reason, a refugee travel document is highly important. If you need assistance with your refugee travel document application, you may email me directly at Michael@AshooriLaw.com. I would be happy to help you.

 

Resources

 

 

 

 

 

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Need A Refugee Travel Document?

Faysal Bakka
01:28 05 Nov 19
Michael is a professional and dependable Lawyer. He knows what to do. I found him online. He was very patient with answering all my questions. He used to reply to my emails quickly and even on weekends. Before I got in touch with Michael, I called many immigration lawyers but they made things complicated and difficult. I was confused but Michael made the process clear and easy to understand. I'm glad I have chosen Michael's service. It's very easy to work with him. My family was very happy because they were able to attend the biometric appointment within 5 weeks and before their flight back to Morocco as Mikael promised. I would highly recommend this service for other people. Definitely I will use his service again!read more
Frank Chen
07:40 29 Oct 19
I sought out Michael online and thought I was taking a chance with a unknown law firm. To my pleasant surprise, Michael offered a quick intro call to introduce his services and the re=entry permit application process. He was open and honest and was very transparent with his service fees. I simply filled out an application and had Michael submit it on my behalf.. The scheduled biometric appointment went smoothly and 3 months later my re-entry permit was approved. I would highly recommend Michael for this service as it was hassle free and cost effective vs trying to do it on your own.read more
Yesha Goswami
13:45 25 Oct 19
I had a great experience working with Michael. Eventually I found his details via google search and after having a quick phone call, I decided to go ahead with him in order to apply for my parents reentry permit applications. Working with him was pretty straight forward and easy going. I live in New jersey and he is based of California, but I never felt that distance was an issue. I pretty much sent all the required documents via email and/or post. I could call/message him if I had any doubts and he would get back to me immediately. Our process was successful and eventually we did receive the Reentry permits in the time line that he had given. I would recommend his services to anyone who wants to apply for Reentry permits or any other immigration services.read more
Mostafa Hilal
15:43 23 Sep 19
Michael is a very good lawyer. He took care of me throughout the process, he answered all my questions and provided me with all the information i need. He was very patient and professional with me when i had many requests. I would totally recommend him as your immigration lawyer and definitely would hire his services again in the future. Thanks Michael!read more
Majken Karoline Jensen
12:05 23 Sep 19
Michael Ashoori has handled my case very professionally and quickly. After one quick phone call he grasped my situation, beyond what I even felt able to explain, and quickly set up the necessary steps to initiate my travel permit for green card. It has worked seamlessly with Ashoori Law and working with Michael made me feel safe to know that everything would be handled the right way. Highly recommend them and would work with them in the future again.read more
Sajan Varghese
09:33 19 Sep 19
Michael is a highly professional immigration lawyer dependable for any sort of immigration work. His dedication and passion in his work is highly appreciable. He was ready to answer for any of my queries without any hesitation. Whenever I wrote to him a reply will be in my inbox instantly. I have approached him for my re entry permit processing and it was done it meticulously. As an immigration lawyer, his passion and professionalism is exemplary. A very easily accessible gentleman at any time round the clock. I wish him all the best and recommending you for any sort of immigration work.read more
Sajan Varghese
09:18 19 Sep 19
Michael is a highly professional immigration lawyer dependable for any sort of immigration work. His dedication and passion in his work is highly appreciable. He was ready to answer for any of my queries without any hesitation. Whenever I wrote to him a reply will be in my inbox instantly. I have approached him for my re entry permit processing and it was done it meticulously. As an immigration lawyer, his passion and professionalism is exemplary. A very easily accessible gentleman at any time round the clock. I wish him all the best and recommending you for any sort of immigration work.read more
Smitha Sivakumar
01:58 19 Sep 19
I approached Michael to apply for my reentry permit, He was very professional and fast at replying all my questions with expertise. He had explained the timeframes and never gave any false promises. I am very happy with his services and got my reentry permit approved within 2 months. I would highly recommend Michael and his law firm and I would definitely use his services again.Thank you Michael for all your help.read more
Paul Aleo
22:41 09 Sep 19
Michael is a professional and dependable Immigration Lawyer who was a pleasure to work with. He took the time to answer any questions I had through the process and was readily available. I hired Michael to help me obtain a TN Work Visa in the United States and my application was successfully approved. I highly recommend Michael as an Immigration Lawyer.read more
Mudassar Jawad
08:20 04 Aug 19
Thanks Michael for all your help and assistance. Really appreciate your prompt replies to all my inquiries as well, It was pleasure working with you. I strongly recommend Michael for his professional services.read more
Ritesh Chutani
19:29 21 Jul 19
Michael has been very helpful with my reentry permit application. He has been very prompt in answering all the questions I had. He explained how I should go ahead with my application and has supported all along in last 3 months since the application process started. I highly recommend his services.read more
Janny Chen
01:28 17 Jul 19
Mr. Michael Ashoori represented me to apply re-entry visa. It was my first time to look for a lawyer on the internet and he happens to be at a different time zone.The reason why I did that because my local lawyer who used to represent me in the past didn’t response to my email for more than 2 weeks. After several trials, I was forced to look for someone to help me.Honestly, I was a bit worried at the beginning. But after sending the first email request to Mr. Michael, I got a phone call and an email from him in less than 12 hours. After that, every time when I had a question, Michael always have a response in 24 hours. And all my questions always get answered immediately. I have never needed to ask the same question twice before getting an answer from him.After the biometric appointment, that waiting period felt like forever. But because of Michael’s professionalism, I had a peace of mind. I know that once he finds out the status, he will let me know right away.I highly recommend if anyone needs any professional help in immigration, Mr. Michael Ashoori is the person to go to.As always, Michael, thank you very much for your help.read more
nibbur
09:39 30 Jun 19
My immigration matter recently got resolved, and very thankful to Michael for making it happen! At the very first consultation, Michael understood the situation, provided insights based on his experience with other similar cases, and suggested a clear plan of action. Now, a few months later, I have a successful outcome, without having to stress during the application processing time.Very appreciative of his patience, and always promptly following through. Michael understands how stressful these matters can be, and has a calming and steadying presence.My highest recommendation, and I will gladly work with him for any future matters.read more
Masoud Shahidi
07:18 21 Jun 19
I have previously worked with several immigration attorneys but the service that I received from Michael Ashoori and his law firm was exceptional. I am so grateful for his passion, dedication, and professionalism and would like to express my profound appreciation for his assistance and prompt responses. Thank you Michael.read more
ADe Bell
12:49 15 Jun 19
Michael was perfectly ready and perfectly timely responsive. It was the easiest process ever. This is the first time I use services from Ashoori Law and I can describe the experience in one simple word- PLEASURE to deal with professionals like this.read more
Nick Wallingford
19:54 11 Jun 19
I was researching about how to complete an I131 travel document for my wife online and hands down the best explanation on how to do so was written by Michael Ashoori. I felt my case wasn’t clear-cut and I didn’t want to take any chances doing it myself so I reached out to Michael and to my surprise he wrote me back that same day. I also thought his price was reasonable, especially in comparison to other lawyers in my area. He has always answered my emails quickly and most importantly my wife’s travel document was approved just as he said it would be in the timeframe he presented to us in he beginning. If you’re someone who is looking for a professional, timely, and easily accessible immigration lawyer to help you or your spouse with immigration matters, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Michael Ashoori as your attorney.read more
Sunil Timothy
13:52 11 Jun 19
Michael's advice has been truly helpful during my effort to procure an L1A visa for myself. He patiently answers the queries and gives excellent working advice for a successful result. Thanks a lot!read more
Suresh Ravi
09:36 21 May 19
I had to apply for a travel document, and in perusing the web for information, I came across Michael's Blog post, which was very detailed in explaining the intricacies of the travel document process and how best to approach each situation. I contacted Michael and he was very forthcoming with information regarding the process and was able to answer all my questions. I applied for my travel document, I-131, through Michael and am thoroughly satisfied with his professionalism, availability and knowledge of the entire process including the timing for each step of the process that paved the way for my I-131 to be approved.I would highly recommend Michael Ashoori for your immigration needs.read more
Swati Jain
20:26 16 May 19
We spoke to Michael regarding some advice on the naturalization process. He was a pleasure to interact with, patient with our questions, and very thorough with his advice. He is extremely responsive and flexible in accommodating his clients. I would recommend him to anyone who needs advice regarding immigration matters.read more
Admin Admin
23:33 15 May 19
Michael was quick, extremely easy to work with, professional, and always reachable. The entire process was straightforward. Thank you for making it so easy for me, Michael!read more
Miguel Lozano
14:45 02 May 19
If you want a world-class, take-you-by-the-hand service (and results), search no more…And let me explain real quick the 3 reasons why I say this about Ashoori Law:1. Clarity. At first, I wasn’t even sure if the service was the right fit for me. Heck, I didn’t even have the slightest idea of how the whole Visa process worked… NOT a problem.Michael had me on a call where he took his time to explain in detail everything I needed to know about how the process worked, my eligibility for the Visa, and every other question I had that I threw at him.BIG Bonus for me: there were some questions Michael didn’t have the answer to right there and then and he simply took some time to research and got back to me later on with the answers… instead of just coming up with BS (like some do).2. Communication. NEVER did I have a single call or email I didn’t receive a response to in less than 24 hours.You don’t want someone you have to be constantly chasing working on your case, do you?I can’t even imagine how frustrating that would be…With Michael, communication was ALWAYS clear and fast, just as you would expect from an expert.3. Certainty. There was absolutely no point during the process where I felt an ounce of doubt about whether I was doing the right thing or not.You know those buying decisions you start regretting the second after the purchase is made? Know that feeling?Well, this is not one of them.Michael and his team are so knowledgeable in their field that they have fool-proof systems in place that help you complete your paperwork and applications quickly and with ease.Since our first interaction, I felt I was dealing with people who knew their stuff.And those are the reasons why I feel comfortable recommending Ashoori Law…They took care of me as a mother takes care of her newborn.Thank you, Michael!read more
Ali Kasa
21:09 28 Apr 19
Mike is competent, prompt and diligent immigration attorney. He worked on our E2 case and what appeared to be a difficult case, he and his team got it approved. Thank you Mike for the great work.read more
María Verónica Misle
16:40 26 Mar 19
I found out about Michael Ashoori Law Firm through the internet, when I started looking for advice regarding US Immigration Law. It called my attention that in its official website it was posted important, comprehensive information on different matters, and it invites customers to ask for direct responses. I decided to write a couple of emails about my personal situation, immediately responded by Michael at no cost. After having received those responses, I asked Michael for a quotation of legal services, which I compared to three more. In the end, I decided to hire Michael because his offer inspired me to trust and it was very competitive, and I definitely made the right choice. Michael was quite diligent when analyzing my case, filed the petition quickly and kept me posted about its evolution. My case was resolved favorably! That is why I have no hesitation in recommending Michael´ services for US Immigration Law. Maria Misleread more
Temesghen Ghde
08:01 26 Mar 19
After being fed up with the lack of expertise and lack of ease of communication at the previous law office I was handling my case, I have come to know Michael when I googled "Best Immigration Law in my area". I can guarantee you, Google wasn't misleading this time. Michael gave me a definite answer to my question and assured me that my case is possible, a question where previously I wasn't able to get an answer more than a "Maybe". And he delivered what he assured me. I am sure many lawyers also deliver, however, I am also sure that no lawyer is as easily accessible as Michael. I have never seen a lawyer who promptly responds to client messages at 11:30 pm. This guy is a pioneer in a Client-Attorney communication style. He re-invented the way how easily clients can call, text, email, and easily reach out their lawyer at any time to get a quick response. A business style other law firms should encourage applying.read more
Myunghwan Kim
23:07 10 Mar 19
I was not certain about writing the crucial document, but most of local attorneys were not taking my case or even very hard to make appointments to get consulting.In that situation, Michael was very friendly and easily accessible through online tools available in this era. Furthermore, he was very committed and responsive to our questions. We finally got approvals about our cases from USCIS and deeply appreciate all of his interactions with us.read more
Richard Srikureja
13:14 19 Feb 19
Michael was a great help to me and my parents. He’s very professional and very fast at replying all my questions with expertise. I am very happy with his services and if I ever needed legal consultation again, I would definitely use his services again. Highly recommended!read more
Nasrin Nabipoor
01:17 12 Feb 19
I have a great experience with Michael. He helped to get a re-entry permit for my mother. During the process Michael was extremely attentive and offered considerable amount of his time to help us. He is absolutely professional and knowledgeable. My mother received her re-entry permit in less than 2 months in a situation that was not promising. The fee was reasonable and I strongly recommend Michael Ashoori.read more
Mohammad Al Nahedh
17:50 21 Dec 18
We had a great experience with Mr. Ashoori. His responses were quick and professional. He was always helpful in giving updates and answers
Suparna D
19:26 11 Nov 18
Michael is a very knowledgeable and helpful lawyer. My husband and I used his law firm for an NIV US visa application, and Michael made the entire process hassle free and smooth. He was always available to answer any questions that we had, and guided us through the entire process. I recommend him!read more
Sanjeewa Ranatunga
16:04 26 Oct 18
I came to know Michael Ashoori through one of his YouTube videos as I needed information on applying for a travel document. That was the best video or source of information I could find online. I contacted Michael 3 months ago. I was running out of time. He was prompt to act and filled my case within a couple of days. It was easy to work with him, and he was quick to respond to any question. His fee was extremely reasonable. I contacted several other lawyers, and their fees were much higher than his. Overall, I'm impressed with his work ethic. More importantly, my case got approved within three months, and I already have my document. If you have any immigration related issue, please do not hesitate to contact Michael. Thank you, Michael, for keeping things simple and getting things done in time.read more
Emma Wallace
08:08 15 Oct 18
Michael was extremely helpful in assisting my re entry permit application. He made the whole process very easy and straightforward. As I was based overseas we mostly corresponded by email and he always responded extremely promptly. I’ve recommended Michael to a friend and would recommend him for immigration assistance and legal advice. Thanks for your help, Michael!read more
Dawa Torbert
14:37 01 Aug 18
Michael offers exceptional customer service. He did a great job helping me with my re-entry permit. He always kept me updated on the progress both via email and by phone. The entire progress took less than 2 months. I highly recommend Ashoori Law.read more
CEDRIC PAOLO JUAN
20:59 23 Jul 18
He replies attentively and from the messages he sends, it shows how accommodating and concern he really is about any issues you have or information you need. Definitely worth every penny!read more
Yogesh Kandlikar
20:57 20 Jul 18
Thanks Michael for your help. It was pleasure working with Michael, i strongly recommend Michael to anyone who is looking to apply for re entry permits.read more
Adil Khan
11:41 12 Jul 18
It was indeed an eye opening consultation I had with Michael. He was very patient and well versed with the L1 Visa option I discussed with him. I truly endorse him for his services as an immigration Attorney and I wish him success in his future endeavors.read more
Muhammad Fahad Ashraf
00:14 26 Jun 18
Like any foreign investor to make his dream come ture, I was looking for the best yet the most-affordable Lawyer with E2 specialization to ensure the visa approval at the very 1st attempt. Not being satisfied with local legal firms especially for E2 Visa, we were referred to MICHAEL ASHOORI; known to be a Subject Matter Expert in E2. Our whole relation with Michael was over the phone but we NEVER felt at-distance due to his professional communication and collaboration skills. We were really impressed with his subject-related knowledge and his exceptional approach.At very 1st engagement with him over the phone,he walked us step-by-step through the standard process for E2 submission and answered all of our questions till our full satisfaction. Upon his analysis of our case, he customized his approach as per our legal situation and reccommended us the best fit-solution for our investment goals. He made the preparation of business/invetment documentation super-easy for me by providing the customized and easy-to-use templates. Him and his team frequently reviewed our documents and provided professional assistance to make appropriate enhancments as needed per USCIS standards. I have never experienced anyone as prompt professional towards his clients as he was. No matter, what time (business/after-business hours) I called him, received immediate & welcoming response. Michael kept me posted with status updates till I received Approval Notice from USCIS :)I am Glad MICHAEL represented me for my case. I WOULD RECCOMMEND MICHAEL TO ANYONE WHO WANTS SUCCESS IN E2 VISA APPROVAL AT THE VERY 1ST ATTEMPT.read more
ABIJIT AJI
01:40 25 Jun 18
I took a consulting session from Michael, and he was simply spectacular. I found him very knowledgeable about the whole L1 process and about the options available for individuals who are interested to go via this option for their immigration. He clearly highlighted the challenges and opportunities regarding my case and pitfalls that need to be avoided. He took this call on a Sunday! I would recommend these guys for any of your L1 related work. Do try out the consulting session he offers so you get first hand view of them.read more
ניסים חסיד
03:29 19 Jun 18
I would highly recommend him, he responds timely and very polite. Michael explains everything in easy to understand terms and will go over anything you do not understand. My process was taken care of faster !than I had expected. Great person to work withread more
Guru Kalle
17:13 06 Jun 18
Mr. Michael Ashoori is a great professional and immigration lawyer. Mr. Michael is knowledgable and advised me regarding my immigration situation. He was able to understand my case and he offered to contact my employer and help with my immigration matter. He is very professional and persistent.read more
Matthew Khalili
01:06 04 Jan 18
Outstanding law firm. The attorney Michael Ashoori helped get a TN visa approval for me very smoothly. Michael was extremely attentive and offered considerable amount of his time to help me understand the process. He is not only extremely talented and knowledge in the field of immigration, he is also a great work ethic and integrity .read more
Arleo Dordar
18:15 27 Dec 17
Michael is thorough, patient, and puts in extra time to make sure you get approved. He works purely for results. I have a great experience with Michael and would recommend everyone to work with him.read more
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Need A Refugee Travel Document?

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U.S. Immigration Lawyer

Michael Ashoori, Esq.

I’m a U.S. immigration lawyer and I help families, professionals, investors, and entrepreneurs get visas, green cards, and citizenship to the United States.

Since starting my law firm, I’ve helped people from all over the world with their immigration needs. I’m very passionate, hard-working, and committed to my clients.

Got a question? Send us an email.

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