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How to Request an Emergency Travel Document?

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What is a "Travel Document" (sometimes referred to as a "White Passport")?
A travel document refers to several different types of documents issued by the US Government/Department of Homeland Security, that permit a person in the United States to travel abroad and reenter the country. This includes Reentry Permits, Refugee Travel Documents and Advance Parole Documents. To obtain a travel document US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Form I-131 (Application for Travel Document) is necessary. Official information is provided by the USCIS at http://www.uscis.gov/i-131.

Most times obtaining a travel document before traveling outside the United States is mandatory, such as in the case of Asylees that requires a Refugee Travel Document. Also applicants with a pending adjustment of status case must obtain advance parole or else their pending case will be closed as abandoned. At other times, it is recommended that a lawful permanent resident (LPR or Green Card holder) needing to stay outside of the United States for a period of more than 6 months request a travel document titled a reentry permit.

Please note that although these travel documents are issued by USCIS, the final decision of whether one can reenter the United States is decided by Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Moreover, a reentry permit does not automatically excuse absences of more than 6 months or invalidate a claim of abandonment of residence.

The process for obtaining a travel document includes the submission of a properly completed Form I-131, the filing fee (Varies, see USCIS website) and 2 passport style photographs with your Alien number written on the back to USCIS. Depending on the type of travel document you are requesting, additional evidentiary documents are necessary.

This application can now be submitted through the USCIS online system as well (http://www.uscis.gov/e-filing-i-131). There is no filing fee when requesting a Travel Document along with an Application for Adjustment of Status.

Please note that this application, with rare exceptions, must be submitted when the individual is physically in the United States.
Soon after submission of the application, the applicant will receive a receipt and subsequently be scheduled for a biometrics appointment. After the biometrics appointment completed, USCIS will complete their screening of the applicant and a travel document will be issued.
This process will usually take 2-4 months from the date of the submission of the application to the time the travel document arrives at your mailing address.

Emergency Cases
Please note that in cases of emergency, an Advance Parole Travel Documentmay be issued on the same day the application is submitted. In such cases, you must appear before your local USCIS field office and submit the required documents, as well as presenting proof of your emergency situation (such as medical documents, death certificates, travel records, etc.)

For the best chance of success, try going to the USCIS office in the early morning. Also, try to obtain an Infopass Appointment (https://infopass.uscis.gov/) and request to talk to a supervisor when at the USCIS field office (if necessary). 

Reentry Permits and Refugee Travel Documents may be expedited by request to the USCIS Service Center, and potentially requesting an earlier Biometrics Appointment at the local USCIS field office. However, all of these options are possible at by the decision of the USCIS agent.

Please note that USCIS offices procedures vary across the United States. If you would like the assistance of our attorneys, please contact the JQK Law Firm.

Photo by: https://www.flickr.com/photos/andrei_dimofte/