I am a permanent resident based on asylum, a green card holder, citizenship is Russia. I was advised not to use my national passport with the US immigration as it may signal my willingness to accept benefits of the country from which I was granted asylum in the US. I currently possess a valid Russian passport.

  1. When I want to go travel to a certain country that has a visa waiver for Russian citizens, would it be okay to present the Travel Document on the way out of the US and enter the destination country on the national passport?

  2. If I decide to travel to a country for which I need a visa as a permanent resident asylee, would it be okay to travel to neighboring countries presenting the national passport to avoid receiving visas as a Russian citizen and subsequently return to the US from the country of the initial arrival presenting the Travel Document upon arrival to the US?

Details for Q2. The nature of the question is about a potential issue of not having all of the arrival/departure stamps in the same document. To clarify, I do not intend to travel to Russia. To paint the picture better, let's say my itinerary is USA, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, USA. A visa would be obtained only for Thailand and placed in the Travel Document.

Note: this is related to I have two passports/nationalities. How do I use them when I travel? but not the same as in this case there is one passport and one nationality.

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    You could probably get away with this if you're very careful, but remember that if the US discovers you are using the Russian passport, you could lose your refugee status and possibly your permanent resident status. Commented Jan 8, 2017 at 5:41
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    Note that using Russian protection or even travelling back to Russia is not necessarily a problem, because it's possible that you were afraid of Russia at the time you got asylum and when you got permanent residency based on asylum, but after you got permanent residency circumstances changed so that you are no longer afraid. Since you are already a permanent resident and not an asylee anymore, your status does not depend on continuing to be afraid of the country. However, if circumstances did not change and you were never afraid, then you got your status through fraud and it can be revoked.
    – user102008
    Commented Jan 8, 2017 at 22:27
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    @KettleFour: but the OP is not a refugee or asylee anymore
    – user102008
    Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 5:31
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    Possible duplicate of I have two passports/nationalities. How do I use them when I travel?
    – JonathanReez
    Commented Jan 13, 2017 at 11:18
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    @JonathanReez Nope, Russia isn't looking, but when I was younger it was unsafe for me to be there due to the aggressive society and unsympathetic police. Hard to tell if it is still unsafe now after 14 years. Regardless, this question is not about my traveling to Russia.
    – KettleFour
    Commented Jan 14, 2017 at 2:16

1 Answer 1


You claim you fled Russia ~14 years ago. You claim that your Russian passport is still valid. However, the validity of the ordinary Russian passport was limited to 5 years back then (10 years now). It appears to me, that you have got a new Russian passport, during last 9 years. That alone can get your asylum green card stripped away, without even travelling on the valid Russian Passport.

So, 1. no 2. no

I strongly advise against attempting to trick USCIS/CBP/DHS in your new home country. It is not worth it. Get US Citizenship -if you can - and travel anywhere you want. It is another question as to whether you will get caught... at least one site suggest to exercise caution even after obtaining a green card Here is more authoritative source from USCIS

I have anecdotal evidence of Belarus refugees using their travel document to travel to Russia and grilled mercilessly about it during their citizenship interview for suspicion they used their refugee travel document to enter Belarus. (Technically, in regard to border control, Russia and Belarus are a part of the Union State, so entering one you can enter another without any passport controls)

PS. Technical note. I-131 is not a proper name for a refugee travel document. This is the name of the form you use to apply for one. The document itself is i-571. (You are also eligible for I-327 - Reentry Permit, ask your lawyer for details)

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    Do you have a source that permanent residency can be revoked for renewing your passport after you're already a permanent resident? It's certainly a problem to renew the passport while before you have permanent residency, could well pose a huge problem for a future citizenship application, and doing anything that could reasonably put your status at risk without competent legal advice strikes me as a horrendously bad idea, but a source that says this is grounds to lose your green card would be nice. Commented Jan 17, 2017 at 19:30
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    @ZachLipton indeed, the prospect of losing asylee status because of changing circumstances is one of the reasons asylees are advised to apply for permanent residency. If changed circumstances would also result in loss of permanent residency then this advice would make no sense.
    – phoog
    Commented Jan 17, 2017 at 20:02
  • @phoog I am not talking about changing circumstances. I am talking about reasonable suspicion of asylum obtained by misrepresentation (fraud) and therefore illegally obtained green card.
    – mzu
    Commented Jan 17, 2017 at 20:13
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    Reasonable suspicion doesn't mean that the card was obtained illegally, though. If the circumstances did in fact change after the green card was obtained, then use of the Russian passport should be allowed (perhaps at the expense of being "grilled mercilessly," true), contrary to your answer ("1. no 2. no").
    – phoog
    Commented Jan 17, 2017 at 20:25
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    Thanks @mzu. I'd argue one way or another that it falls into the category of "don't do this without competent legal advice, because you could be creating a giant problem for yourself and putting your status at risk," but since the OP has already gone and renewed the passport, it's great to give as much clarity as we can on what the US government thinks of that decision. Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 0:45

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