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

 

 

 

 

 

Ahmed Gaber
21:44 03 Aug 20
Good office because he offer free consultation
Vj M
03:58 14 Jul 20
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Gustavo Mas
18:03 07 Jul 20
My experience with Michael is remarkable, he is very professional and has profound knowledge in immigration laws, he made me feel like I was with the right lawyer, so rest assure, if you decide to work with him, you are very likely to be successful... at your case.read more
Allen
18:58 25 Jun 20
Great institutions like Ashoori law firm are made by great people, and there are no finer individuals than those who dedicated themselves to assist clients with different cases like mine. “HONEST & EMPATHETIC” are the words that come to mind when I... think of Lahaina and the rest of her amazing team! Highly professional and experienced immigration attorney who provided excellent service, demonstrating personal attention to all details of your cases. They show compassion by studying clients' stories.They certainly know the immigration process and help you fully prepare for the case and interview. They are always making sure that the whole process goes very smooth. I especially want to thank “Lahaina Araneta” attorney & Michael Ashoori. If you are a really nervous client like me, these people are always super patient and kind with you. If anyone is looking for immigration help, “Ashoori law firm” should be your very first choice for sure because they can really get things done!Working with Lahaina Araneta was absolutely great. She helped me through my entire journey without any hesitations. I always got answers whenever I had questions. I will definitely work with “HER” again on my next journey. She helped me a lot from the beginning of my case (naturalization case). She is attentive to details and very informative. She also quickly responded to my questions about my status. I can't say enough about her. I was completely dazzled by her communication skills and courage in communications with the USCIS office. I am blown away by her integrity and all the hard work she has done on my behalf. I will always be grateful for all of her efforts. Lahaina I just want to thank you for the excellent work you did as my immigration attorney. I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to you for all the cares and concerns you have shown me, and for working tirelessly. if it weren’t for your analytical skills and knowledge, the matter wouldn’t have been settled by now. I knew you have a lot of clients, so your prompt responses and attention to detail really meant a lot to me. Having an experienced attorney like you on my side was a good sign that I was walking into the right path to win the case. Thank you Lahaina for your support during my N-400 application process, and for helping me to get the desired outcome. You don't know how much your passion impacts the lives of others.read more
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18:41 10 Jun 20
Lahaina was one of 4 lawyers that I had an Initial consult with. She was the only one who took the time to truly understand my case. She was patient with me and very responsive. The most important thing is she was the only lawyer who believed in me.... She has world class professionalism. We successfully got my visa and I couldn’t have done it without her. Will never use another law firm. Highly recommend. She truly cares about her clients and goes the extra mile.read more
Rw Right
17:39 06 Jun 20
Look no further. There are solid reasons why they get straight 5 stars in this review.They work as a (great) team and everyone is very knowledgeable and reliable. Micheal posts timely insightful topics on Youtube, in addition to answering all of... your personal questions quickly and responsively.read more
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09:10 03 Jun 20
We recently needed the assistance of a law firm and due to the fact that we had limited time available to submit our application, many of the law firms that we contacted were not able to assist us. We then came in contact with Michael from Ashoori... Law. Not only did they assist us with our application, they also provided us with efficient, professional service. They really went out of their way to make sure that we meet the deadline and provided us with regular updates on the process. What a wonderful and stress free experience! I would definitely recommend Ashoori Law’s services to any potential clients.read more
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00:03 16 May 20
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Ashoori and Lahaina are very professional and detail. They responded to my questions with terms that I can understand without any hidden agenda. I wish I hired them when I first applying my E2. They are the lowest in fees and most professional... immigration lawyer that I had encounter. We go through all the process through phone and email without meeting in person and I got my E2 renewal approved. Way better then any immigration lawyer that I had meet in person in NYC.Will definitely stick with them and recommend them to all my friends and family.read more
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19:27 08 May 20
Michael was amazing!! He gave his full support all the way through with my process and he would always update me and guide me when necessary. Extremely satisfied with his work. (real client)
persia falcon
21:00 05 May 20
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02:15 02 May 20
Michael's law firm is compose of professionals who are working more than the sake of their clients. They care on their clients with their situation and help without limitation. They attend to all questions timely and return with immediate solutions... to secure all will be resolved and all worries were eased. I highly recommend and refer this firm to all related US re-entry and immigration concerns.read more
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09:17 01 May 20
Utilizing the services of Ashoori Law has been a pleasure and an outstanding experience. I highly recommend Ashoori Law to anyone who needs immigration assistance. With the help of Ashoori Law my spouse and I were able to get our immigration... documents seamlessly and without no issues. Ashoori Law is very customer oriented and from Day 1 is always available for you if you have any questions or concerns. Going forward, my spouse and I definitely plan to use Ashoori Law for future immigration services.read more
Divina Chingcuanco
01:33 29 Apr 20
Michael Ashoori is reliable and responds to inquiries with very short waiting time. His law firm handled my travel document efficiently even if it was within a very narrow window. He has kindly mailed my travel document in the most expeditious way... possible. I will definitely engage his services again if I need this type of legal service.read more
Titi Bern
00:04 25 Apr 20
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03:17 24 Apr 20
I recently employed the services of Michael Ashoori and Ashoori Law to help with the lodging of a Re Entry Visa for my wife and myself. I am delighted with the result and the expediency with which Asoori Law handled our application.We now have... approval of our visas and couldn't be happier. One of the stand out aspects of dealing with Ashoori was the fact that I could tel or email Michael at any-time and would always receive a prompt response by return email. This personal connection with the company during the process made me feel I was dealing with a friend and that I could reach out to at any time I had a question, rather than being treated as another client. I can in all confidence recommend Ashoori Law for Immigration matters due to this wonderful experience and the way my application was handled. Sincerely. Richard and Judy Norton.read more
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22:17 23 Apr 20
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17:42 10 Apr 20
I had question about eb1 process and my alternatives to stay along with priority date timelines ie options to move over to another visa type like h1, to continue waiting for green card processing, all of my questions are very well taken by the... immigration consultant ( Karla Samayoa) , she has very strong hold on the processes and options available to candidates, i would certainly recommend her for immigration consulting on l1a visa and eb1 visa and green card application. I give her 5 startsThank youread more
Hansel Gonzalez
13:56 09 Apr 20
I reached out to Ashoori Law in order to obtain my US Re-Entry permit late last year. The whole team was friendly, knowledgeable and prompt to my many questions. Michael himself would answer any questions along the way after submission, which... assured me my case was important and on their radar. Having worked with various immigration lawyers in various countries I’ve worked at (6, so far), I know that is not always the case. I recommend to consider Ashoori Law for your US immigration needs, and I expect to reach out to them whenever I next need services in regards to US immigration.read more
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14:27 18 Mar 20
Working with Michael was a pleasure from the beginning to the end. Through the experience of obtaining my re-entry permit, I got to witness first-hand his professionalism, expertise, and attention to detail.Some things that I really... appreciated:-Taking the time to work out the strategy for me, explaining the options I have and the solutions to potential situations that could arise. -Responding quickly and with well-thought out responses, when I emailed him with questions. -Being very meticulous (him as well as his staff) in ensuring the that logistics of my application were executed expediently and carefully. My case was not a big one, yet Michael behaved as if it were a big case. For that he certainly has earned my return business for immigration cases in the future, and I heartily recommend his services to anyone looking for a truly exceptional immigration lawyer.read more
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13:26 12 Mar 20
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emma Daniels
02:18 06 Mar 20
Karla was Very friendly to chat with and helpful
James Corcoran
14:38 05 Mar 20
I posting this for my wife in China VPN not workingI am so impressed by Mr. Michael Ashoori and will not hesitate to recommend him to you as one of the best immigration attorneys!!! For my case, I had an urgent timeline to apply for a re-entry... permit. To make it more complicated, I had multiple international travel plans during the application period. I reached out to quite a few attorneys for assistances. They either turned me down directly due to the time constrain or did not reply at all. On the contrary, Michael assured the feasibility of such an application during the first teleconference. Just as what he told me, all worked out perfectly under his coordination. To me, the following sets Mr. Michael Ashoori and his team apart from most of his peers:1) He is not only knowledge of the immigration laws and regulations but also highly familiar of the immigration authorities’ operation details. This is extremely critical to an urgent case since every step matters.2) He has the right AI system setup to monitor the daily workflows and handle the repetition workloads. Therefore, his team can focus on the key variables and client interactions efficiently.3) His fee is very reasonable and competitive.4) He cares about his clients as a friend. That is precious in a business world. You are in good hands if you pick Mr. Michael Ashoori and his team!read more
Humayun Tariq
08:09 05 Mar 20
I applied for the re- entry permit with Micheal Ashoori. I can say without a doubt, Micheal is the most helpful lawyer I have found there. What I love about Micheal is that he is really accessible to anyone, unlike other lawyers. He is always... available for a consultation call and clears out the queries patiently. He gives the best advice suited to the situation which has really helped me out with my planning. When I decided to apply for my re- entry permit with Micheal, he assisted me throughout the process. I just had to mail him the signed copy of the application and rest was handled by him and his team.Also, his team members, specifically Lahaina Araneta, are a joy to work with. They have been very responsive on e-mail even if it is late at night.Micheal, along with his team members, is very polite and never rushes an answer.I would definitely recommend everyone to work with Micheal if they need legal assistance in delicate matters such as immigration. He is the best you can get out there in terms of being responsible, responsive and accessible.read more
Sriram Akella
06:07 27 Feb 20
Worked with Micheal for applying reentry permits for my wife and myself. He prepared all the paper work and was ready so that we could file the day we landed in US. Very Friendly and answered all my questions with patience.Would definitely... recommend him for any immigration related work.read more
bardia bahrami
00:02 26 Feb 20
He was awesome, everything was straight forward with Michael and his team. I received my re-entry permit 6 weeks after submitting my request .
Tom Tam
17:43 22 Feb 20
This lawyer was awesome and helped my family with our own immigration case! 10/10 would recommend!
Remo Barducci
07:56 14 Feb 20
From the very first call where we were taken through the process right through to completion, all the interaction with Ashoori has been of the highest level . The advice we were given , how we were steered through the whole process and the brilliant... communication was simply faultless . Even though we are based in Australia on the other side of the world , time zones were no issue . Anyone planning on using Ashoori law, we recommend them very highlyread more
Blake McGrath
03:01 14 Feb 20
I needed to apply for an E-3 visa from Australia and Ashoori Law made the process very simple. All the required documents were provided as long as important information regarding the visa process, what was required for interviews and all other... relevant information. They have answered any questions I have had in a timely manner and have made the process and application and confirmation of the visa run very smoothly.Highly recommended.read more
Suresh Arumugham
11:01 13 Feb 20
I had utilized the service from Ashoori Law. Compared to other Law firms where you have to check for updates, Ashoori Law is very professional are very prompt in providing timely updates. They will take care of you until the service is complete.... Completely Satisfied.read more
Elena Matsa
07:47 13 Feb 20
Michael was very professional and always available to help by phone or by e-mail. I am thankful to have worked with him.
Edwin Ayala
23:31 12 Feb 20
Very professional , very efficient firm right from the beginning all the way to the end of our case , I think that immigration knows their reputation and that is why our case when very smooth and no issues at all , thank you Micheal Ashoori and team... .read more
nantanut saengprasit
04:19 12 Feb 20
As, I have some problem to apply reentry permit. I am very serious in my case because it was denied for the first time. When, I saw Ashoori Law website. I believe in Mr.Michael who can help me in this case. I got the great support from Mr.Michael... and his team. Finally, my reentry permit was approved. I would like to say Thank you very much. I hope who have the immigration's problem. Please contact to him. He expert for the Immigration law. He can suggest you until finish. Again, Mr.Michael, thank you very much for your help.read more
Arian Shahidi
22:44 10 Feb 20
It was a great experience working with Michael. Before starting to file my documents for my case he explained every detail step by step and guided me. During the process he updated me every time and answered every question accurately. I’m very... satisfied and looking forward to work with him in the future. If you’re looking for an excellent attorney, I strongly recommend Michael Ashoori.read more
Robert Cook
05:47 08 Feb 20
Prompt , efficient , and reliable , a very professional service ..
frederic khoury
11:07 06 Feb 20
The team was very responsive, available to chat on the phone and very responsive to my emails and questions. I would recommend Ashoori's service above any large law firms with whom I had dealt previously. I got exceptional service with Ashoori.
Joao Castro
02:05 06 Feb 20
Michael and his team deserve more than a five star rating. I hired Mike already based on a recommendation from a friend of mine, who also requested his services. My friend gave him five star as well, and this could simply not be different.Since my... first contact with Michael, I've perceived his solid ethical principles, responsive professionalism and personal attention to all details in US immigration complex process. In my case, he was key for me to obtain I-131 permits for three Green Cards - and the documents were shipped after just six weeks after the process initiation. In another process, he has been immediately responsive to replace Green Cards. And all my contacts were online - which is a testimony of his great online reputation.If you are looking for US Immigration lawyer assistance for true delivery, great value and avoid risks and potential problems, the answer is Michael Ashoori Law, with his fantastic team, that really and personally takes care of your immigration needs.JCread more
J V
06:39 03 Feb 20
Erase any doubts about this law firm. Michael Ashoori’s team delivers. The 5 star rating says it all! I know that it is a tough decision to choose a lawyer who you can entrust your immigration concerns but his law office’s services are backed by... several outstanding reviews. I can attest to their excellent services based on my own experience. Michael and his team were able to explain the whole process clearly. The expectations, time line, costs were defined at the very start. This gave a boost of confidence to a first-time client like me. I appreciated that they are very prompt with their responses. Michael and his team made themselves available for whatever concern I had with my case and no question for them is too simple to ask. The most important thing is that the team is able to deliver!read more
Pranay Agarwal
00:01 22 Jan 20
Michael is extremely professional and really knows the details of the complex US immigration law. I recently hired his services for my travel permit document (1-131) and from the day we first spoke till the end of the process he was very responsive... and attentive. In my situation in particular, I needed take several trips being a frequent traveler and he carefully planned that in the process to avoid any complications. I highly recommend Michael for any US immigration needs.read more
Phong Si
03:17 15 Jan 20
I used Michael's immigration law firm to help renew my wife's reentry permit. It was her second time, and we were living out of country. First time was with a different lawyer. His team made everything smooth and communicated quickly and clearly.... Our permanent residence is in Georgia, but we found out about Ashoori Law through google. I had several worries since it was a renewal, and was with a different lawyer in a different state. But this was really a satisfactory experience with no problems.read more
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Michael Ashoori Headshot

Michael Ashoori, Esq.

U.S. Immigration Lawyer

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 hundreds of 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 me an email.