USCIS Unveils New Carrier Documentation for LPRs

On September 30, 2016, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced the release of form I-131A, a new form that “… allows lawful permanent residents (LPRs) to apply for a travel document (carrier documentation)…” from abroad if certain criteria are met. While useful, it is important to understand the limited situations in which an LPR is eligible to apply for this benefit.

Eligibility to Apply for I-131A Carrier Document

Eligibility to apply for an I-131A carrier document is limited to two situations: (1) the LPR’s green card has been lost, stolen, or destroyed and s/he is returning from an overseas trip of less than one year; or (2) the LPR’s reentry permit has been lost, stolen, or destroyed, and s/he is returning from an overseas trip of less than two years.

Application Process

In order to apply for this new carrier document, the LPR must pay the required fee of $360 online and then apply in person at a U.S. embassy or consulate. There is no biometric services fee associated with the form and there is currently no fee waiver. The timeline for receiving the travel document is about two weeks. Once the document is issued, the LPR may present it to a carrier, such as an airline, instead of a green card or reentry permit.

Travel Document Does Not Guarantee Admission to U.S.

The carrier documentation is not a guarantee of admission into the United States. Rather, it serves to prove to a carrier, such as an airline, that the LPR is authorized to travel to a U.S. port of entry in order to apply for admission. Just as in the case of an individual who travels with an unexpired green card or a valid reentry permit, Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) is still responsible for determining whether one may be admitted or paroled into the United States. More details on the impact of lengthy travel by an LPR may be found in the MurthyDotCom NewsBrief, Extended Travel by a Permanent Resident (1 of 2) (16.Mar.2016).

LPRs With Expired Green Cards May Not Need Carrier Document

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 the LPR has an expired green card that was issued with a 10-year expiration date, or the LPR has an expired green card with a 2-year expiration date and a notice of action (form I-797) showing that s/he has filed an I-751 or I-829 to remove the conditions on the permanent resident status. The notice of action generally extends the validity of the card for one year.

In either situation, the LPR is encouraged to check with the carrier to determine whether a carrier document is needed.


This new carrier document will undoubtedly help some LPRs whose green cards have been lost or destroyed during overseas trips. In such circumstances, and if the individual meets the criteria, one can consider filing the new form to be able to return to the United States. It is important to remember that this form does not alter the existing rules regarding lengthy travel by permanent residents, nor is it a substitute for filing for a reentry permit in advance of long-duration overseas travel.


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Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.