All United States Legal Permanent Residents (LPR) or Conditional Residents (CR) who are traveling outside of the United States must present valid documents demonstrating their residency status in order to re-enter. If you have remained out of the United States more than one year (or beyond the validity of a Re-Entry Permit) or do not have your I-551 Permanent Resident (“green”) card, then you may need to visit the Embassy in order to obtain the appropriate documents to return to the United States. You can learn more about Returning Resident Visas at usvisas.state.gov.
Please click on the appropriate section below.
I am a permanent resident, and:
I have been out of the US for more than one year
If you have remained out of the United States for more than one year, or beyond the validity period of a Re-entry Permit then your immigrant visa and green card are no longer valid. If you wish to return to the United States and resume permanent residence, you will require a new immigrant visa. If your stay outside the United States was due to circumstances beyond your control, you may be able to apply for an SB-1 Returning Resident Visa. If not, a new immigrant visa petition must be filed on your behalf.
I have an expired green card in my possession
If you are in possession of any of the following documents, you may travel to and re-enter the United States. You do not need any further documentation to travel to the United States.
- An expired Permanent Resident Card with a 10-year expiration date; or
- A 1977 version of the LPR card with no expiration date. Click here for an example; or
- An expired Permanent Resident Card with a two-year validity and a Form I-797, Notice of Action, indicating that status is extended; or
- Orders, civilian or military, from the U.S. government showing that you were traveling outside the United States on official government business.
My green card been lost, stolen, or damaged
If your green card has been lost or stolen and you are not in possession of any of the above documents, then you need a boarding foil in order to travel to and re-enter the United States.
In order to request a boarding foil, you must:
- Schedule an Embassy appointment to apply for a boarding foil at https://ais.usvisa-info.com/en-jm/iv.
- Complete Form I-131A and bring it to your Embassy appointment.
- Obtain a police report, if applicable.
- Bring a valid passport and 1 passport photo to your appointment at the Embassy.
- Find your Alien number. If you do not know it, you may obtain your Alien number from your nearest USCIS office.
- Pay the boarding foil fee of $575.00. Payment cannot be made at the Embassy, and this fee must be paid BEFORE coming for the consular appointment. Payment must be made online at: https://www.uscis.gov/file-online/log-online-filing.
Please note: USCIS will not process a refund if an applicant later determines that a LPR boarding foil was unnecessary, and USCIS will not provide a refund if the individual should have applied for an SB-1 (Returning Resident Visa) rather than a boarding foil.
Resources for Airline Representatives
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) details the documentation requirements for returning residents with expired green cards in the instructions on the webpage for Form I-131A. The vast majority of these residents require no additional documentation from the Embassy in order to travel to the United States.
- U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) publishes the Carrier Information Guide to assist airlines in addressing these matters. Pages 36-39 and 10 explain the documentation requirements, if any, for returning residents.
- You can also call the Regional Carrier Liaison Group (RCLG) to confirm this information.