A Complete Guide To

Form I-131, Application for Travel Document

Form I-131 Explained

What is Form I-131 used for?

Certain non-citizens can file Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, to obtain various travel documentation. The application has different uses depending on the non-citizen's immigration status in the United States. When filing, applicants may request the following types of travel documents from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS):

  • Reentry Permit
    Permanent residents may file a request for a Reentry Permit. This travel document allows a lawful permanent resident or conditional permanent resident to apply for admission to the United States upon returning from abroad during the permit’s validity. Generally, permanent residents use this document when a trip outside will be more than one year but less than two years.
  • Refugee Travel Document
    Certain asylees and refugees (or permanent residents who obtained such status as a refugee or asylee) may file a request for a Refugee Travel Document. USCIS issues this travel document to individuals that lack a passport from their home country and require travel documentation. It can be used much like a passport.
  • Advance Parole Travel Document
    Certain non-citizens may file a request for Advance Parole. USCIS may "parole" individuals who do not have a visa but are otherwise permitted to physically enter the United States for a specific purpose. An individual who has been paroled has not been admitted to the United States and remains an “applicant for admission” even while paroled.
  • Humanitarian Parole
    Certain non-citizens may file a request for Humanitarian Parole if they have a compelling emergency and there is an urgent humanitarian reason or significant public benefit to allowing the person temporarily enter the United States. Anyone can file an application for Humanitarian Parole. This request is currently in use through the United for Ukraine program and Process for Venezuelans.

Eligibility to Apply for a Travel Document

Who needs Form I-131?

Eligibility to file Form I-131 is dependent on the travel document type. Each travel document has specific criteria. In some cases, immigration status may also affect filing requirements. CitizenPath's Travel Document Package is an online service created by immigration attorneys. It's an affordable way to confirm eligibility and prepare the application correctly.

Reentry Permit

Permanent residents who anticipate an absence from the United States or one year or more should generally apply for a Reentry Permit. A green card is typically sufficient to reenter the U.S. after trips of less than one year. However, there is a presumption that you've abandoned your permanent residence when the absence is one year or more. A Reentry Permit helps mitigate this problem. With the exception of having to obtain a returning resident visa abroad, a reentry permit does not exempt you from compliance with any of the requirements of U.S. immigration laws. In other words, it is still important that you haven't taken actions that suggest you've abandoned your green card.
Learn more about Reentry Permits >>

Reentry Permit cover

Refugee Travel Document

Individuals with asylum or refugee status generally must have a Refugee Travel Document to return to the United States after temporary travel abroad. In most cases, a refugee or asylee may use the Refugee Travel Document for travel in place of a passport. This is helpful because many lack a passport from their home country. In fact, the Refugee Travel Document is similar in appearance to a U.S. passport. Permanent residents, who obtained such status as an asylee or refugee, may also need a Refugee Travel Document in place of a passport.
Learn more about Refugee Travel Documents >>

Refugee Travel Document

Advance Parole

Non-citizens who are in the United States (typically waiting for a more permanent immigration status) may be able to request Advance Parole. If eligible, Advance Parole is necessary to return to the United States after temporary travel abroad.

Although there are other eligible status, individuals with a pending Form I-485 (adjustment of status applicants) and recipients of Temporary Protected Status, use Advance Parole for brief trips. Generally, if you have applied for adjustment to that of a permanent resident, USCIS will deem your application abandoned if you leave the United States without first obtaining Advance Parole. When issued in combination with an Employment Authorization Card, Advance Parole is issued directly on the card (as pictured).
Learn more about Advance Parole >>

Advance Parole on EAD

I-131 Online Filing Options

Can Form I-131 be filed online?

At this time, there is no way to submit Form I-131 to USCIS electronically, but you can prepare the form with an online service to make sure you prepare it correctly.

USCIS has not introduced online filing for this form. Regardless, e-file doesn't necessarily mean you get quick processing. If you are interested a quick approval, focus on submitting a well-prepared application package. It’s the difference between saving a couple of days with online filing versus saving several weeks with smooth processing. What’s more, USCIS is not your advocate. They are not looking out for your best interests. If you include information that damages your immigration future, USCIS isn’t going to correct you.

For people who want to make sure they are preparing the application correctly, CitizenPath offers an affordable service created by immigration attorneys. CitizenPath’s Travel Document Package will make the application easy and give you alerts if there’s a problem. You’ll also receive detailed filing instructions so you know exactly which supporting documents to submit with your application. CitizenPath even provides a money-back guarantee that USCIS will approve your application for a travel document.

Form I-131 Instructions

How do I fill out I-131?

CitizenPath's easy-to-use website helps you prepare the application quickly and accurately. Our online service provides step-by-step I-131 instructions to make it easy. We even give you a money-back guarantee that USCIS will approve your application.

If you prefer to fill out the Form I-131 PDF, you can download instructions from USCIS or follow this summary of directions.

General Guidance

  • Type or print answers in black ink only. 
  • Enter “N/A” if an answer is not applicable and "NONE" if your answer is zero.
  • Foreign language documents must be accompanied by a full English certified translation.
  • Submit your application with the current USCIS filing fee. Use a personal check, money order, cashier’s check or use Form G-1450 to pay by credit card.
  • Submit photocopies for all supporting documents unless an original document is specifically required.

Part 1

  • For Information About You, answer the general questions about name, address and birth. Carefully indicate how you were admitted to the United States or your current status that makes you eligible for a travel document.

Parts 2, 3, and 4

  • For Application Type, select which type of travel document you are requesting. Your choices are very limited based on your immigration status. In rare situations, such as humanitarian parole, you may provide information about yourself in the remainder of the section.
  • For Processing Information, supply answers regarding your intended travel, removal proceedings, and previous travel documents. Disposition is an explanation of what happened to the previously issued travel document. Speak to an immigration attorney before traveling outside the United States if you are in removal proceedings or have accrued any time in an unlawful presence. If you are requesting a Reentry Permit or Refugee Travel Document, you may provide address information if you wish that it be delivered abroad instead of your U.S. address.
  • For Information About Your Proposed Travel, describe the purpose of the trip and which countries you intend to visit. Generally, there are no restrictions for permanent residents requesting a Reentry Permit for temporary travel. However, individuals who have (or have had) asylum or refugee status should avoid traveling back to their country of claimed persecution. Speak to an attorney first. Likewise, some Advance Parole applicants -- such as DACA -- are limited to specific reasons for travel.

Parts 5, 6, and 7

  • For If Applying for a Re-entry Permit, complete the section only if you are requesting a Reentry Permit. Your past time outside the United States may affect the term of your new travel document. Speak to an attorney if you ever considered yourself a "nonresident" during your time as a green card holder.
  • For If Applying for a Refugee Travel Document, complete the section only if you are requesting a Refugee Travel Document. Again, any asylee or refugee generally should not travel to their country of claimed persecution. If you must travel to that country, speak to an immigration attorney first.
  • For If Applying for Advance Parole, complete the section only if you are requesting an Advance Parole Travel Document. Indicate if the document should be valid for a single use or multiple trips. Again, in limited circumstances, you may provide information about an overseas U.S. embassy or DHS office if the person intended to receive the document is abroad.

Parts 8 and 9

  • For Applicant's Statement, sign your application with black ink. A surprising number of I-131 rejections are the result of applicants forgetting to sign or signing in the wrong place. Provide an email and U.S. phone numbers where USCIS can reliably reach you. USCIS will rarely call applicants, but they will use email.
  • For Preparer, provide information if applicable. If you prepared your Form I-131, it’s only necessary to sign as the “applicant.” If another person prepared the application for you, be sure Part 9 is filled in and signed appropriately.

This is an abbreviated list of Form I-131 instructions. We highly recommend that you download USCIS instructions or use CitizenPath’s service to prepare the application. CitizenPath provides filing instructions customized to your situation. You’ll get detailed I-131 instructions that explain which supporting documents to submit, how to organize, and where to mail.

Filing Addresses for the Application

Where to file Form I-131?

USCIS accepts the I-131 application via mail only. They do not want applicants to submit the form in-person at USCIS offices. USCIS has numerous filing addresses. The address depends on various factors such as the basis of eligibility, travel document type, and U.S. state of residence. For the most up-to-date address, refer to your CitizenPath filing instructions or use the USCIS I-131 direct filing addresses.

Although USCIS receives your application package at these locations, they will process them somewhere else. If you have an interview (rare), it will be at a USCIS field office near the home address you provide.

Form I-131 Processing Time

How long does it take to get a travel document?

USCIS is reporting I-131 processing times in excess of one year at their service centers. Check USCIS processing times for the latest estimates. The best way to ensure a smooth process and quick processing time is to prepare a complete and problem-free application. For this reason, CitizenPath customers generally experience the best processing times for USCIS travel documents.

Expedited processing of a travel document is available in certain situations. For a detailed description of plausible reasons and how to communicate your urgent need, see our article on expedited processing for travel documents.

Reporting for processing times only includes forms that were successfully filed. If an individual does not correctly prepare a form or otherwise does not satisfy eligibility requirements, USCIS will reject or deny these requests. For the most recent year, USCIS reported the following national statistics:

USCIS Rejections in 2023


68,269 Rejections
USCIS Denials in 2023


186,878 Denials

How CitizenPath Helps You

Is there an inexpensive way to file the I-131 application?

CitizenPath's affordable, online service makes it easy to prepare Form I-131, Application for Travel Document. Designed by immigration lawyers, the Travel Document Package helps you eliminate the common errors that create delays, rejections and even denials. That's because the service alerts you when your answer to a question may be a problem. You'll also get customized filing instructions based on your situation. It's a powerful, do-it-yourself tool that puts you in control. And we've got your back -- CitizenPath provides live customer support and provides a money-back guarantee that USCIS will approve your application. Get started >>

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