USCIS Publishes New Form I-131A

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USCIS has published Form 131A, Application for Travel Document (Carrier Documentation), a new form that allows lawful permanent residents (LPRs) to apply for a travel document if they:

  • Are returning from temporary overseas travel of less than one year and their green card has been lost, stolen or destroyed; or
  • Are returning from temporary overseas travel of less than two years and their reentry permit has been lost, stolen or destroyed.

The length of absence will be measured from the time the LPR departed the United States to the time he or she pays the Form I-131A fee.

Applying for Carrier Documentation
To file Form I-131A, LPRs must pay the required fee online and then apply in person at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. The embassy or consulate will generally issue the carrier documentation within two weeks. The LPR should present the carrier documentation, which may be a boarding file (similar to a visa) or transportation letter, to a transportation carrier instead of their green card or reentry permit.

The carrier documentation allows an LPR to prove to a transportation carrier only that they are authorized to travel to a United States port of entry to apply for admission to the U.S. It is not a guarantee of admission or parole into the United States. CBP will conduct all required inspections when the LPR arrives at a United States port of entry and will make the final determination of whether to admit or parole the lawful permanent resident to the U.S.

Filing Form I-131A does not give an LPR a new green card. To apply for a new green card, they must file Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card, and pay the filing fee.

LPRs with Expired Green Cards
LPRs with expired green cards may not need to file Form I-131A. USCIS encourages LPRs to check with their airline or vessel before determining whether to file Form I-131A.

Although regulations generally require an LPR to travel with a valid green card, CBP policy permits a transportation carrier bound for the United States to board an LPR without carrier documentation if:

  • They have an expired green card that was issued with a 10-years expiration date; or
  • They have an expired green card with a two-year expiration date AND a Form I-797, Notice of Action, showing that they have filed a Form I-751 or Form I-829 to remove the conditions on their permanent resident status. The notice of action extends the validity of the card for a specified length of time, generally one year.

Filing Fee
The filing fee for this form is currently $360, but will increase to $575 on December 23, 2016. There is no biometrics services fee. The fee must be paid online using a credit or debit card or U.S. bank account through the USCIS online system.

Applicants cannot use a fee waiver for this form. As with all immigration fees, USCIS does not issue refunds, regardless of the decision on the application.

Where to File
Before appearing at a U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consulate to file Form I-131A, LPRs must submit the filing fee on the USCIS website. When appearing in person at a U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consulate to file Form I-131A, they must bring evidence that they paid the fee. Please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consulate or visit its website to verify that they are able to process the Form I-131A and to read instructions on how to file.

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