I would like to know, whoever has travelled to the USA using the South African travel document how did they do it?

What is the process and how will I go about it ? Please respond . I am afraid of being rejected because they might think I am going there to stay because my document says refugee.

  • Is there a particular aspect of the application process that concerns you? travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/tourism-visit/… If you’re asking about your chances of success, no-one can answer that with any certainty. You need to meet the admissibility criteria, including ties to your country of residence.
    – Traveller
    Aug 8, 2019 at 12:41
  • I am a refugee in south Africa with a south African refugee passport
    – Clop23
    Aug 8, 2019 at 14:33
  • Tags are like an index, and help users find useful information. The site's usefulness is increased if tags are appropriate. Did you use the search box (top of the page) to search for the refugee travel document information you're seeking? Aug 9, 2019 at 14:43

1 Answer 1


How one may travel to the US is determined by one's citizenship. Some citizens of other countries may travel to the US for non-immigrant purposes (i.e., travel) without a visa. Others may be eligible for ESTA, an electronic system that grants (or denies) permission to come to the US border to seek admission without having a visa.

Refugee Travel Documents are accepted by some countries as sufficient for entry, but not by all countries. The US does not accept them for visa-free travel. Without knowing your country of citizenship, we cannot say if you're eligible for ESTA. Thus, to travel to the US you must apply for and receive a US visa.

US visas for persons resident in South Africa are handled by the US Embassy and Consulates in South Africa.

Note that in applying for a visa you'll have to disclose your country of citizenship, even though it is the country from which you are a refugee.

  • Disclosing the country of citizenship does not put refugee status at risk. Making use of that country's "protection," including use of the passport, can put the status at risk, but applying for a visa with a refugee document does not constitute making use of the citizenship country's protection -- instead, it is making use of the protection of the country of refuge, which is entirely consistent with, and indeed governed by, the refugee convention.
    – phoog
    Jan 11, 2021 at 17:38
  • @phoog Thanks for the correction. I don't know what I was thinking to have written that. Amended. Jan 11, 2021 at 20:09
  • Regarding ESTA, refugees can't use the VWP regardless of citizenship because doing so requires using the passport of the country of citizenship, which of course they shouldn't do.
    – phoog
    Jan 12, 2021 at 6:49

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