Unsure of where to start with your US Refugee Travel Document? Start here! One of the most important things is getting a compliant passport-style photo to send off with your application. Use this article to your advantage to find out what to do to make your US Refugee Travel Document simple. Get reading!
Who is Eligible for a Refugee Travel Document?
There are a few criteria that will make you eligible to apply for a US refugee travel document.
Who is Eligible for a Refugee Travel Document
- Individuals who are refugees or have asylum status in the US
- Green card holders (legal permanent residents of the US) who received their green card through asylum or being a refugee
If you’d like to make an application for a US refugee travel document, you’ll need to apply through the USCIS before travelling abroad. However, you can apply in exceptional circumstances, or in case of an emergency at a US consulate abroad.
Which Countries Can You Travel to With a US Refugee Travel Document?
Once you’ve received your US refugee travel document, you’ll be able to travel to a number of countries around the world. However, the countries that you’re allowed to travel to must be part of the Convention Relating to the States of Refugees.
There are over 145 countries part of the Convention. These countries will accept the US refugee travel document that is given by the United States government. This is because the US refugee travel document carries similar authority to the US passport, as part of the Convention.
Examples of Countries Can You Travel to With a US Refugee Travel Document
- United Kingdom
- New Zealand
Use this link to find the full list of countries that are part of the Convention Relating to the States of Refugees.
US Refugee Travel Document Benefits
When you have a US refugee travel document, you’ll be able to travel to any of the 145 plus countries that are part of the Convention, provided you meet their other entry requirements.
Not only this, but the US refugee travel document is a secure travel document that is backed up by the authority of the US government. It is well known that the US passport is one of the strongest travel documents in the world. You will also be able to re-enter the United States after travelling abroad with your US refugee travel document.
Furthermore, if you are ever in need of help in an emergency or require urgent advice, you can enter a US consulate or embassy abroad, with the authority that your US refugee travel document provides you.
When to Apply for Your Travel Document
You should apply for your US refugee travel document before you make permanent plans to travel. The USCIS recommends that you file your Form I-131, 60 days before leaving the United States. You also need to be in the United States to be able to apply for the US refugee travel document.
Biometric scans need to be taken of your fingerprints, as well as photos of your face etc. These must be taken in the United States, so it makes sense to apply for a US refugee travel document whilst you’re in the US. Otherwise, your application will most likely be denied.
However, you can still apply for a US refugee travel document if you’ve been abroad for less than a year when you file Form I-131. Although, the USCIS can reject your application if they think you could have applied whilst you were still in the United States.
How to Apply for a US Refugee Travel Document?
To start the application process and get a US refugee travel document, you need to file Form I-131, Application for Travel Document. Read below for the steps to get started.
How to Apply for a US Refugee Travel Document
- Download Form I-131 from the USCIS website
- Fill in Form I-131 and gather any evidence required
- Pay any necessary fees associated with applying
- Wait for your USCIS Biometrics Services Appointment in the mail
- Attend the Biometrics Services Appointment (failure to attend will lead to your application being denied)
- Receive your US refugee travel document after processing
What are the Supporting Documents for a US Refugee Travel Document?
When you apply for your US refugee travel document, you’ll need to supply evidence or supporting documents. These documents will be in addition to your I-131 application form. Read below to find out what supporting documents might be required for your US refugee travel document application.
Supporting Documents for a US Refugee Travel Document
- Official photo identity document showing photo, name and date of birth. Examples:
- Employment Authorization Document
- Government issues driver’s license
- Form I-551
- Permanent Resident Card (Green Card)
- USCIS issued document showing refugee or asylum status
- This document must show the expiration date of refugee or asylum status
If you’re not in the United States when you apply for your US refugee travel document:
- You’ll need to supply 2 copies of a colour passport-style photo of yourself.
- Taken within 30 days of filing the application
What is the validity of a US Refugee Travel Document?
Once your application has been processed and approved by the United States government, you’ll receive the US refugee travel document which has a validity of 1 year.
You cannot extend the US refugee travel document beyond the 1-year validity, so you would have to reapply if you want to travel again after this period of time.
What is the Processing Time of a US Refugee Travel Document?
When the USCIS has received your Form I-131 as well as the initial evidence that is required (ID documents & photos) it will be processed to see that it is correct. After this, you may need to provide further documents or information, and even attend a Biometrics appointment or interview.
The whole process from the filing of your Form I-131 should take between 2 to 5 months. However, you can expedite the process under these circumstances:
- Severe financial loss to a company or individual
- Extreme emergency
- Humanitarian emergency
- Request from the US government
What is the Cost of a US Refugee Travel Document?
The cost of a US refugee travel document is $135 USD for those over 16’s. A slightly reduced cost of $105 USD is payable for those under 16.
You will also have to pay for a Biometrics Services Appointment which costs $85 for 14 to 79-year-olds.
If you’re not sure that you can afford the costs of a US refugee travel document, you might be eligible for a fee waiver. Use the fee waiver guidance on the USCIS website.
Get Your ID Photo for Your US Refugee Travel Document Correctly, Cheaply & Quickly
When applying for a US refugee travel document, you’ll most likely need a passport-style photo as part of the initial evidence in the filing of Form I-131. If your budget is already feeling tight, with the costs of your application in mind, we’re here to help.
Using Smartphone iD, you can take pre-approved passport photos whenever and wherever you need them. We offer full guidance from start to finish, as well as expert checks to make sure your passport-style photos are 100% acceptable to the government. If for some reason they’re not, we’ll send you a full refund.
Download Smartphone iD on Android or iOS and follow the guidelines in the app!
Here are some tips to get you started:
- Make sure to remove your glasses or any accessories covering your face.
- Ensure that there are no shadows covering your face (even lighting across your face).
- Keep a neutral expression whilst keeping the camera at eye level.
- Take your photo then follow the instructions in the Smartphone iD app.
You might be overwhelmed by the amount of information and things you need to do for a US refugee travel document application. But don’t worry! You can get your passport-style photo checked off your list and focus on other tasks when you choose Smartphone iD. Our professional service will take care of all the requirements for a low cost and deliver high-quality passport-style photos straight to your email or address in no time!
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