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for more than one year, or beyond the validity period of a Re-entry Permit then your immigrant visa and green card are no longer valid.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.
You can learn more about Returning Resident Visas on usvisas.state.gov.
To apply for returning resident status:
An application for returning resident status requires evidence of 1) the applicant’s continuing, unbroken ties to the United States, 2) that the stay outside the United States was truly beyond the applicant’s control and 3) that the intent of the applicant was always to return to the United States. Evidence may consist of continuous compliance with U.S. tax law, ownership of property and assets in the United States, and maintenance of U.S. licenses and memberships. Having U.S. relatives, attending school overseas or stating intent to return is insufficient. You must have proof of the three elements listed above.
How to Qualify
Under Section 101(a)(27)(A) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, an alien may classify as a special immigrant if the consular officer can clearly determine that:
- The alien had the status of a legal permanent resident at the time of departure from the United States.
- The alien departed from the United States with the intention of returning and has not abandoned this intention.
- The alien is returning to the United States from a temporary visit abroad and, if the stay abroad was protracted, this was caused by reasons beyond the alien’s control and for which the alien was not responsible.
Applicants for Returning Resident status must complete Form DS-117 and pay the filing fee at the U.S Embassy on the day of the interview.
Email BridgetownIV@state.gov to schedule an appointment at the Embassy for an interview Interviews are scheduled Monday to Thursday 7:30 AM to 10:00 AM
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 has 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:
- Complete the I-131A form and pay the corresponding fee. The I-131A form is available at https://www.uscis.gov/i-131a . 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 bring your receipt to your appointment at the Embassy.
- Obtain a police report, if applicable to bring to your Embassy appointment.
- Bring a valid passport and one 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.
- Email BridgetownIV@state.gov to schedule an appointment at the Embassy for an interview.
If you have left your Green Card in the Unites States, you should ask a friend or relative there to send you the card.
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.
The applicant will still be required to submit Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card, and pay the required fee once he/she arrives in the United States. Form I-90 filing instructions are available on the USCIS website.
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. https://www.cbp.gov/document/guides/carrier-information-guide-english#.