1. Home
  2. Learning Center
  3. Application for Carrier Documentation While Outside the U.S. (Form I-131A)
  4. Do I need to file Form I-131A for an expired green card outside the United States?

Do I need to file Form I-131A for an expired green card outside the United States?

Expired Green Card Outside the United States

If you have an expired green card and are presently outside the United States, you most likely do not need to file Form I-131A, Application for Travel Document (Carrier Documentation).

Customs and Border Protection policy permits a transportation carrier bound for the United States to board a permanent resident without carrier documentation if he or she carries:

  • an expired 10-year Permanent Resident Card; OR
  • an expired two-year Permanent Resident Card and valid Form I-797, Notice of Action, indicating that status is extended.
i-797c notice of action sample

If you have either of these documents, you most likely can use them to return to the United States, and you do not need to file Form I-131A. However, we highly recommend that you contact your transportation carrier to verify that they will accept these documents.

You will need to file Form I-131A if the green card or reentry permit is also lost, stolen, or significantly damaged. Without this important documentation, your transportation carrier should not allow you to board. Additionally, the Customs and Border Protection officer at your port of entry will most likely refuse you for entry.

RECOMMENDED: Green Card Renewal from Outside the U.S.

Mistakes on your I-131A application can cause costly delays or a denial. Prepare your I-131A correctly and affordably with CitizenPath. The attorney-reviewed software guides you through the application and provides help to answer questions like this one. And personalized filing instructions help you to file your application today knowing that you did everything right! No credit card or signup required to try it. Get started now >>

Renewing an Expired Green Card

Upon your return to the United States, you must file Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card, to replace the green card. You cannot renew an expired green card outside the United States.

Absence of One Year or More

Form I-131A should only be filed if you have been outside the U.S. for a period of less than one year (or two years if you had valid reentry permit). Green card holders with absences of one year or more may have abandoned their permanent residence.

RECOMMENDED: Green Card Abandonment: Risks of Travel Abroad

Source: USCIS