A Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) of the United States is required to present a valid Form I-551, Permanent Resident Card (Green Card), if seeking readmission to the U.S. after a temporary absence of less than one year.
If you are not in possession of your Permanent Resident Card, you may apply for a Transportation Boarding foil in order to facilitate boarding by the airline to transport you back to the U.S. Boarding Foils” are valid for a maximum of 30 days and for a single entry. To issue a Boarding Foil, an interview with a consular officer is required to confirm you hold a Lawful Permanent Resident status in the United States.
You may apply for a Transportation Boarding foil if you are an LPR and:
- You are returning from temporary international travel of less than one year and your Permanent Resident Card (also known as a Green Card or Form I-551) has been lost, stolen or destroyed.
- You are returning from temporary international travel of less than two years and your reentry permit (Form I-327) has been lost, stolen or destroyed. (The length of your absence from the United States will be measured from the time you departed the U.S. to the time you pay the fee for filing Form I-131A).
How to apply for a boarding foil:
If you believe you have maintained your lawful permanent residency and require a Transportation Boarding foil to reenter the United States, please complete the following steps.
Step 1: Complete the I-131A form and pay the filing fee online.
- Pay the filing fee through the USCIS online payment system ELIS. Be sure to read the instructions before you pay as this fee is not refundable regardless of the decision on the application. Applicants will need their A number in order to pay the fee, which can be obtained from the nearest USCIS office if it is not known.
- You must pay the filing fee for the I-131A form online on the USCIS website before appearing in person at a consular section. Information on the form and fee is located here. You must bring evidence of payment, in the form of a printed email receipt notice or confirmation page, when you appear in person at the Embassy for your appointment. As with all immigration fees, USCIS does not issue refunds, regardless of the decision on the application. USCIS will also not provide applicants an I-131A fee payment refund if the individual should have applied for an SB-1 returning resident visa instead of a boarding foil. Please click here for more information on the SB-1 process
Step 2: Schedule your boarding foil interview
Step 3: Prepare the following documents
- A completed I-131A Form
- Copy of payment receipt for the I-131A online, i.e., a printed email receipt notice or confirmation page
- Unexpired passport
- Your airplane tickets (the ticket showing your most recent departure date from the U.S.). DO NOT buy non-changeable tickets to return to the U.S. until you have received your boarding foil.
- Evidence of your U.S. Lawful Permanent Resident status (e.g., passport showing the admission stamp to the United States as a Lawful Permanent Resident, copy of your green card if available)
- Evidence that you were in the United States within the last 12 months
- Police report from when the card was lost or stolen if available
- One passport-style color photograph with white background taken within 30 days. Note: Applicants are not permitted to wear eyeglasses in the photos.
- Written statement as to reason for remaining outside the U.S. beyond expiration date (if applicable)
Boarding foils can only be processed during normal business hours. We cannot process requests on weekends, holidays, or in the evening.
Processing time will depend on the circumstances of your case and the amount of information and evidence you provide. The normal processing time is three to five working days from the time of your interview with a consular officer, but individual circumstances can vary. At least two visits to the embassy are required. (i.e., one for the interview, and one for picking up your passport with the boarding foil if approved.)
If you are an LPR with an expired Green Card, you may not need to file a Form I-131A.
Although regulations generally require an LPR to travel with a valid Green Card, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) policy permits a transportation carrier bound for the United States to board an LPR without carrier documentation if you:
- Are an LPR in possession of an expired Green Card that was issued with a 10-year expiration date, or;
- Are an LPR with an expired Green Card with a two-year expiration date AND you also have a Form I-797, Notice of Action, for Form I-751 or Form I-829 to remove the conditions on your permanent resident status. The Notice of Action extends the validity of the Green Card for a specified length of time, generally one year.
We encourage you to check with your airline or vessel before filing a Form I-131A.