Political Asylum Lawyer Advice: Is It Possible To Travel Back Home?

Political Asylum Lawyer
Political asylum lawyer

When looking at how to seek asylum in USA it’s vital to understand the different types of asylum and any associated travel restrictions. Understandably, at some point, you may want to travel back home to visit family and to see how the conditions have changed after your departure. 


However, this is not always a straightforward process for an asylum seeker due to the governing laws and stipulations outlined by the U.S. government. In the below guide, we look at the political asylum and the realities of traveling back to your home country.



Understanding Political Asylum

First, let’s look at political asylum and how it differs from the other grounds for asylum as outlined in the 1951 Refugee Convention that the U.S. Government is party to.

Definition and Purpose


Your asylum application can be fought on one of five grounds of persecution – race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. 


Typically, political asylum is claimed when you have faced (or fear the face of) persecution as a result of your political opinion or affiliation. For example, you may be a supporter of the leading opposition in a country or support a minor political movement that is facing persecution.

Rights and Protections as a Political Asylee


Political asylees have the same rights as claimants for the other four grounds for persecution – the only difference is the grounds and why you are fleeing from your home country. Rights and protections include:


  • Right to legally stay in the United States.
  • Work authorization.
  • The ability to apply for a Green Card.
  • Certain benefits, such as housing support and education support.


Legal Implications of Traveling Back Home


Unlike full U.S. Citizens, political asylees have constraints regarding foreign travel, and it’s not a mere case of hopping on a plane – an immigration lawyer asylum specialist can help in this scenario, including obtaining Refugee Travel Documents, which we explain below.

Refugee Travel Document


A person with asylee status in the U.S. can only travel abroad if they have a Refugee Travel Document if they also wish to return to the United States. This holds until you have lawful permanent residency (Green Card), or have been naturalized and are a U.S. Citizen.


To apply for a Refugee Travel Document, you must complete Form I-131 before you leave the United States. A political asylum lawyer can help with this form completion, and the document is valid for 1 year. We advise completing Form I-131 at least 60 days before your travel date, where possible, to avoid any issues.


Failure to complete this form before travel could result in your asylum status being terminated and you being denied reentry into the country.


Immigration Lawyer Asylum
immigration lawyer asylum

Traveling to Your Home Country


When looking at how to seek asylum in the U.S., it is possible to return to your home country once your asylum status is granted. However, the USCIS reserves the right to terminate your status and deny reentry into the country.


This can happen when your travel means that you are forgoing the protection the U.S. Government has provided and essentially proving the claims you made during your asylum application to be false.


Factors to Consider Before Traveling

Whenever you consider traveling outside the United States your first priority must be to obtain a Refugee Travel Document. This is your lifeline and the first line of protection of your asylum status. However, there are other considerations you must make.

Safety and security of your home country


Even if you can legally travel back to your home country with authorization, you must consider if it is wise to do so. Before looking at any travel plans, it’s vital to assess the current political situation in your home country and how it has changed since you left. 


Perhaps the political scene has changed and your affiliations mean you no longer face persecution. Alternatively, maybe things have gotten worse, and traveling back home could potentially put your safety at risk.


Speak to friends and family who still live in your home country, keep up to date on current affairs, and research the current political scene so that your decision to travel home is as informed as possible.

Weighing risk vs reward


If you want to return home purely to see family and reforge connections, you must think of the bigger picture. By doing so, you could potentially be voiding your asylum status. Not only that, but you could be placing your family and loved ones in harm’s reach. You must weigh up the potential risk of traveling home, and whether the reward is worth it.

Alternatives to Traveling Back Home

How To Seek Asylum In The U.s.
How to seek asylum in the U.S.

If your political asylum lawyer advises against traveling back home, there are alternative methods to explore that can still keep you updated and keep you in touch with friends, family, and political partners.

Alternative communication methods


The great thing about how to apply for asylum and the process in the modern age is the benefit of the internet and improved communications. We understand that phone calls and voice calls aren’t the same as physical interactions, but, if they mean protecting your asylum status and your family, perhaps they can be a suitable alternative.

Tracking the political scene


If you have internet access, you should be able to get news updates relating to the political scene in your home country. Consider subscribing to local news feeds for information and updates. 


Using a VPN on your computer may also allow you to bypass geoblocking features in your home country and access local news stories. By staying informed on the politics of your home country, you can weigh up the decision to return home.

Exploring diplomatic channels


There is also a range of diplomatic channels that are available to political asylum seekers so they can stay informed and look at avenues of returning to their home country. Your attorney asylum specialist can give guidance in this regard and find relevant diplomatic channels you can benefit from.

Foreign Travel Should be Done With Careful Consideration

As you can see, traveling to your home country could potentially harm your asylum status and you must only do this with careful consideration and consultation with an immigration lawyer asylum expert. Your asylum attorney can cooperate with the USCIS, help you obtain a Refugee Travel Document, and look at your options for maintaining your asylum status when traveling abroad.



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