9 FAM 203.7
Refugee Travel documents
(Office of Origin: CA/VO)
9 FAM 203.7-1 Issuance of Refugee Travel Documents
a. DHS issues refugee travel documents on Form I-571, Refugee Travel Document, in implementation of Article 28 of the United Nations Convention of July 28, 1951. Form I-571 entitles refugees to return to the United States, provided such persons have not abandoned their residence, lost their refugee status, or become excludable. A valid Refugee Travel Document issued to an asylee, refugee or lawful permanent resident (LPR) should be regarded as a reentry permit. In some instances, an LPR may be issued a refugee travel document, but only upon surrender of any prior reentry permit. Occasionally consular sections receive issued refugee travel documents for delivery to refugees abroad temporarily. Posts should follow the same delivery guidance as for re-entry permit delivery (see 9 FAM 202.2-4(D)(2)).
b. Posts are occasionally contacted by aliens who were admitted to the United States as refugees or who were granted asylum, and who subsequently departed without obtaining a Form I-571, Refugee Travel Document. If such an alien has been outside of the United States for one year or less, he or she may be authorized to file Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, to apply for a Form I-571. To be eligible, the RTD request must be filed with USCIS within one year of the individual's last departure from the United States.
c. If eligible to file, you should refer the alien to the USCIS Form I-131 website for instructions on where the RTD application must be filed. The alien must pay the applicable Form I-131 filing fee(s) to the cashier at the U.S. embassy or consulate with jurisdiction over the alien's location and include the fee receipt when submitting his or her application package to USCIS. USCIS international offices do not accept the filings of or process RTD applications. USCIS has the discretion to decide whether to accept the Form I-131 filing from abroad.
9 FAM 203.7-2 Refugees with Other Travel Documents
a. If an alien has been outside of the United States for more than 1 year, he or she is not eligible for an RTD. The alien may instead apply for parole by filing a Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, with appropriate fee(s) with the USCIS Lockbox, following the Form I-131 instructions. While the same form is used for both RTD and parole applications, you should refer the alien to USCIS website "Humanitarian or Significant Public Interest Parole for individuals Outside of the United States" or the USCIS I-131 website for information on how to apply for parole for urgent humanitarian reasons. If travel is urgent, the alien should be directed to follow the I-131 instructions for expedited processing. (See also 9 FAM 202.3-3(B)(1) for more on parole requests filed by aliens outside of the United States.)
b. Refugees and asylees who have become LPRs may use different documents when traveling abroad, depending on their unique circumstances. An LPR who traveled abroad but who is unable to return due to having an expired, lost or stolen Form I-551, Permanent Resident Card, may choose to apply for an RTD or a Form I-131A, Application for Travel Document (Carrier Documentation), if he or she has been outside of the United States for less than one year. If the LPR is not eligible for a waiver of documentary requirements and does not have an unexpired immigrant visa, reentry permit or other valid entry document, or has been outside of the United States for more than one year, the LPR is also potentially eligible for an SB-1 visa. (See also 9 FAM 502.7-2(C) for more on processing returning resident cases.) If he or she is ineligible for an SB-1 visa, parole may be an option. Refer such LPRs to the USCIS Form I-131 or I-131A website for instructions on how to apply for these travel documents. (See also 9 FAM 202.2-4 for more on LPR travel with Form I-551, including situations involving expired lost or stolen I-551 cards, boarding foils, and other documents.)
9 FAM 203.7-3 Lost Refugee Travel Documents
When an alien claims to have lost Form I-571, and wishes to apply for a new RTD within one year of his or her last departure from the United States, you should direct the alien to the USCIS I-131 website for instructions on how to apply for a new RTD.