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Apply For A Travel Document

How to Apply for a Travel Document (Updated 2021)

If you are an immigrant who has received the right to live in the United States or an immigrant who has a pending matter regarding living in the United States, it may be possible to travel outside of the United States without losing your right to return to the United States and live in the United States.  However, to so travel abroad and still protect your legal rights in the United States, it may be necessary that you take a certain action.

This necessary action is that you apply for what is known as a “travel document” (also sometimes described as a “travel permit”) with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”).

There are three types of travel documents that are issued by USCIS:

travel document

Reentry Permits

  • Reentry permits are used by green card holders (lawful permanent residents) who want to leave the United States and remain in a foreign country for one year or more.  In essence, a reentry permit can be a necessary traveling document for green cardholders.
  • Without a re-entry permit, you could be considered to have abandoned your lawful permanent resident status if you leave the United States to travel abroad for one year or more.
  • It is generally not necessary to obtain a reentry permit if you return to the United States from your foreign travel in less than one year.
  • The reentry permit must be applied for while you are physically present in the United States.  USCIS recommends that you apply for a reentry permit no less than 60 days before traveling abroad.
  • In addition, you must complete the required biometrics in connection with your reentry permit before you leave the United States.
  • You do not have to be in the United States while your reentry permit application is pending with USCIS.
  • Reentry permits are generally valid for two years.

Refugee Travel Documents

  • Refugee travel documents are used by refugees or asylees who want to leave the United States and travel outside the United States.  It should be highlighted that refugee travel documents should be used by refugees or asylees if there is any travel outside the United States; there is no time period of permitted travel outside of the United States as applies for green card holders before they need reentry permits (as described above, generally less than one year).
  • Without refugee travel documents, you will be denied admission back into the United States when you return from abroad.
  • Refugee travel documents should be applied for before you leave the United States (although it is possible that you will be allowed to obtain refugee travel documents from outside of the United States if allowed in the discretion of the USCIS Overseas District Director with jurisdiction over your foreign location).
  • Refugee travel documents are generally valid for one year.

Advance Parole Documents

  • Advance parole documents are used by persons who want to leave the United States before certain pending immigration matters regarding living in the United States have been resolved.

Two common uses of advance parole documents are:

  1. If you have filed a pending Form I-485, “Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status” (“Form I-485 Travel Permit”). You can apply for a Form I-485 Travel Permit if you seek to travel abroad for “urgent humanitarian reasons” or in furtherance of a “significant public benefit”, which can include a personal or family emergency or bona fide business reasons.  Form I-485 applicants who travel outside the United States without advance parole for Form I-485 can be deemed to have abandoned their Form I-485 (and related green card application).
  2. If you are subject to deferred action as a childhood arrival under the “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” (“DACA”) program. (“DACA Travel Permit”). You can apply for a DACA Travel Permit if you seek to travel abroad for educational purposes (including a semester abroad programs or academic research), employment purposes (including overseas interviews, conferences, or meetings with clients), or humanitarian purposes (including to obtain medical treatment, attend funeral services for a family member, or visit a sick relative).  DACA applicants who travel outside the United States without advance parole for DACA will lose DACA status.
  • Advance parole documents generally must be both applied for and approved before you leave the United States (although in rare cases, the USCIS may issue an advance parole document to persons outside of the United States).
  • Advance parole documents are generally valid for one year.

It is important to note that advance parole documents do not guarantee your admission back into the United States.  Instead, they simply permit you to travel to a United States port of entry and request admission back to the United States; the ultimate decision to admit you back into the United States will be made by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer at the port of entry.

Process|Form I-131

How can I get a travel document? Whether you are applying for a re-entry permit, a refugee travel document, or an advance parole document, you will make your application to USCIS on Form I-131, “Application for Travel Document”.

Form I-131 must be filed with certain documents, which will vary based on the specific type of travel document that you are seeking. How long it takes to get i-131 approved? usually take 3-6 months.

Among the documents that must be filed with Form I-131 when you apply for a reentry permit are:

  • A copy of an official photo identity document; and
  • Evidence that you have lawful permanent resident status (including a copy of the front and back of your green card).

Among the documents that must be filed with Form I-131 when you apply for a refugee travel document are:

  • A copy of an official photo identity document;
  • Proof of refugee or asylee status; and
  • A statement explaining the reason for a “Yes” response to any question in Part 6 of Form I-131.

Among the documents that must be filed with Form I-131 when you apply for an advance parole document are:

  • A copy of an official photo identity document;
  • Two identical passport-style photographs of you taken within 30 days of filing the Form I-130; and
  • A copy of any document showing your current status in the United States.

How long does it take to get a travel document? The travel document is usually approved by 3 to 5 months after submitting your application. You must submit in the country until after your fingerprint. (during Covid-19, may exempt fingerprints, if you had fingerprints in past 2 years)

In addition, the fee that you have to pay in connection with Form I-131 (“travel document fee”) will vary based on the specific type of travel document that you are seeking.

How much does a travel document cost? If you are applying for a reentry permit on the Form I-131, the travel document fee will be a filing fee of $575, plus, if you are from age 14 to age 79, a biometric services fee of $85, resulting in a total travel document fee, if applicable, of $660.

If you are applying for a refugee travel document on the Form I-131, the travel document fee alternatively will be (a) if you are age 13 or younger, a filing fee of $105, (b) if you are age 14 or 15, a filing fee of $105, plus a biometric services fee of $85, resulting in a total travel document fee of $190, (c) if you are from age 16 to age 79, a filing fee of $135, plus a biometric services fee of $85, resulting in a total travel document fee of $220,  or (d) if you are age 80 or older, a filing fee of $135.

If you are applying for an advance parole travel document on Form I-131, the travel document fee will be a filing fee of $575.

The Form I-131 instructions describe the Form I-130 requirements in detail.

While travel documents enable immigrants to leave the United States without losing their legal rights, it can be a complex process to properly apply for a travel document.  DYgreencard.com has extensive experience in obtaining travel documents and can guide you through all aspects of the travel document application process.  Whether you are seeking a reentry permit, a refugee travel document, or an advance parole travel document, when you apply for travel documents, please contact DYgreencard.com.