Boarding Foils – Replacing Lost or Stolen Green Cards

Form I-131A, Application for Travel Document (Boarding Foil)

Purpose:

To allow lawful permanent residents (LPRs) who do not have a Green Card or reentry permit to apply for a travel document (boarding foil) that permits a transportation carrier to allow them to board a flight or vessel to the United States without penalty.

Who May File or Receive Service:

You may apply for carrier documentation 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; or
  • 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.

For eligibility purposes, we will measure the length of your absence from the United States, from the time you departed the U.S. to the time you pay the fee for filing Form I-131A.

If you are an LPR with an expired Green Card, you may not need to file a Form I-131A. You should check with your airline or vessel before filing a 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 you:

  • Are an LPR who has 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 12 to 18 months.

Filing the I-131A and Other Special Instructions

If you are a lawful permanent resident (LPR) who has lost your LPR card and/or reentry permit and you need travel documentation to return to the U.S., you can file your Form I-131A with any U.S. embassy consular section.  If you would like to file your I-131A at the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, before filling out the I-131A form or paying the fee, please send the following information to NairobiLPR@state.gov:

  • First Name of Lawful Permanent Resident:
  • Last Name of Lawful Permanent Resident:
  • Place of birth (include city/town and country)
  • Country of citizenship
  • Date of birth (please spell out the month)
  • A number (this has 9 digits, for example: A000 000 000)
  • Passport #
  • Reason for Transportation Letter: Expired, Lost, Stolen or Other (see below)
    • If ‘Other’ please include a brief description in your email
  • Date of last departure from United States (please spell out the month)
  • Date of your planned return flight to the United States (please spell out month)
  • Phone Number (add Country Code if not in Kenya)

Please know that if have been out of the US for more than 1 calendar year (or 2 years with reentry permit and/or on U.S. government travel orders), you are NOT eligible to use a travel document and must go thru SB1 processing.  Please see the Embassy’s LPR page for more information about SB1s.

A consular staffer will reply to your email during normal business hours and give you specific instructions on whether you are eligible to file the I-131A and give you a specific appointment date.

If you are eligible to file a Form I-131A, you must pay the filing fee for this form online using the USCIS online payment system before your appointment date. You may pay the fee with your credit or debit card or U.S. bank account. When you appear in person to file Form I-131A, you must bring evidence that you paid the fee, such as a printed copy of your payment confirmation page or a printed copy of your emailed receipt. No refunds are granted for immigration services, regardless of an application decision.

Child Born Abroad to an LPR

If you are an LPR mother and your child is born abroad during your temporary absence from the United States, your child may enter the United States without a visa before he or she turns two years old AND your child is accompanied by their LPR mother or LPR father on their first return to the United States. CBP’s guidance indicates that an airline may board a child in this situation. If an airline refuses to board your child without carrier documentation, we can issue a transportation letter. You do NOT need to file Form I-131A or pay a fee for this service. Please contact this USCIS office for additional information.

If your child does not come to the United States when you, the LPR parent, first return to the United States, consult a U.S. consulate or embassy about the availability of an immigrant visa for your child.

If your child was conceived via Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) and the LPR mother is not the genetic or legal gestational mother of the child, the child may not be eligible for a transportation letter. Please contact a U.S. embassy or consulate for additional information.

LPRs Outside the U.S. For More than One Year

If you have been outside of the United States for more than one year without a reentry permit (or more than two years with a reentry permit and/or on U.S. government travel orders), you will need to either seek a returning resident visa (SB-1) with the consular section of the U.S. consulate or U.S. embassy nearest to you or consult with the USCIS office that has jurisdiction over the country in which you are traveling about an alternative travel document.

For information about maintaining your residency after receiving your Green Card, see USCIS’s After a Green Card is Granted page.

Contact Us

If you have questions about the above services, please contact the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi at NairobiLPR@state.gov.