An Afghan refugee who already had their initial meeting with an asylum officer wants to travel briefly to Pakistan or Iran for a family emergency. Definitely not entering Afghanistan.

Can application for US Refugee Travel Document be expedited and will that get you into either of those countries? They are an Afghan citizen who was air-lifted out by US but not does not have SIV status.

I’m not asking about Advanced Parole.

And I have already seen this on USCIS site -

USCIS issues refugee travel documents to people with refugee or asylum status and to lawful permanent residents who obtained their Green Cards based on their refugee or asylee status.

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    I have no idea if they are eligible for one, but if they are, a RTD takes 1+y to get, and 99% sure this can't be expedited Commented Feb 25, 2023 at 8:12
  • I suspect the answer to both questions is ‘no’. You can check the answer to your second question on the IATA Travel website iatatravelcentre.com by inputting full details of your proposed flight itinerary / travel documents
    – Traveller
    Commented Feb 25, 2023 at 9:54

2 Answers 2


A Refugee Travel Document is only for people who have refugee or asylum status. You don't, yet, until your claim has been processed. You cannot "expedite" an RTD because you aren't eligible for it yet. You would need to wait until you have been granted refugee status before applying for an RTD.

Until then you either need to get Advanced Parole and use whatever travel documents you already possess or not travel.

If you have a lawyer handling your refugee application consult them about this.

  • "and run the risk that doing so will void your application": the point of advance parole is that it allows you to leave the US without voiding the application.
    – phoog
    Commented Feb 25, 2023 at 18:07
  • Oops yes, my mistake. Fixed. Commented Feb 25, 2023 at 19:07
  • "run the risk that you will not be readmitted to the US": a green card also does not guarantee admission to the United States. An asylum applicant with advance parole is not likely to be in a substantially worse position than an asylum applicant in the US.
    – phoog
    Commented Feb 25, 2023 at 22:56
  • @phoog I must admit I have no real idea how likely it is that a returning applicant with AP is denied. Is it like having a visa, where you could be refused admittance but realistically it would be only if they've found new information about you. Would an airline accept AP as a document to get on a plane? Commented Feb 25, 2023 at 23:24
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    "Would an airline accept AP as a document to get on a plane?" Of course; it's on the list of acceptable travel documents. I have a close friend who had AP in connection with an adjustment of status application after he married a US citizen. His experience was that every time he returned to the US he was sent to secondary immigration inspection where they looked up his application to see whether it had been decided while he was away. Presumably a similar procedure would apply to someone with a pending asylum application.
    – phoog
    Commented Mar 1, 2023 at 10:54

An asylum applicant can travel outside the US if advance parole is granted. See "what if I need to travel after I've applied for asylum" at https://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/refugees-and-asylum/asylum/affirmative-asylum-frequently-asked-questions/questions-and-answers-affirmative-asylum-eligibility-and-applications:

If you applied for asylum and have not yet received a decision, you should not leave the United States without first obtaining advance parole. Advance parole allows certain individuals to return to the United States without a visa after traveling abroad. If you leave the United States without first obtaining advance parole, we will presume you abandoned your asylum application. Advance parole does not guarantee that you will be allowed to reenter the United States.

To obtain advance parole, you must file Form I-131, Application for Travel Document. For more information about travel documents, see the Fact Sheet: Traveling Outside the United States as an Asylum Applicant, an Asylee, or Lawful Permanent Resident Who Obtained Such Status Based on Asylum Status (PDF, 45.16 KB).

Much has been made in the comments and in another answer of the fact that advance parole does not guarantee admission to the US. But even a green card does not guarantee admission to the US. This statement by itself is of little help in determining what might actually happen when the applicant returns to the US with advance parole. In fact, admission is likely unless the asylum application was denied while the traveler was outside the country.

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    One notes the caveat Advance parole does not guarantee that you will be allowed to reenter the United States. Thus, risk remains even if AP is obtained. Commented Feb 25, 2023 at 15:16
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    And going to Iran might not be the best option here.
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Feb 25, 2023 at 15:20
  • 2
    @GeorgeWhite but the refugee travel document cannot be issued until the asylum application is adjudicated favorably (i.e., asylum is granted). Advance parole allows the applicant to leave and return to the US while the application is pending, subject of course to the caveat, which seems to be the desired solution in this case owing to the family emergency. The major risk of not being allowed to return is probably of the application being refused during the trip. A consultation with an immigration lawyer, preferably one with experience handling asylum applications, is probably warranted.
    – phoog
    Commented Feb 25, 2023 at 17:58
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    @GeorgeWhite: "refugee" means people who were admitted to the US in "refugee" status, i.e. people who applied for a refugee resettlement program from outside the US, which the US has annual caps for, and they were granted refugee resettlement in the US, and the US allowed them to travel to the US to be admitted as a refugee under INA 207. This is completely separate from the asylum process, which is provided by INA 208.
    – user102008
    Commented Feb 27, 2023 at 1:57
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    @user102008 but one of the qualifications for being granted asylum is to be a refugee. The distinction between refugee and asylee is not absolute.
    – phoog
    Commented Mar 1, 2023 at 10:56

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