When you lose your green card in the US, there are steps that you can take to get it renewed or replaced. This is usually not a big deal since your Permanent Resident status remains valid and you likely will not be asked to show your card before you can get it replaced.
In contrast, if you’re a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) and you lost your green card while you’re traveling abroad, you may be panicking a bit. When an LPR travels abroad, it is very important that they have a valid green card or other proof of legal status in the US. If they do not, they run the risk of being denied entry upon returning to the country.
So what do you do if you’re already abroad and your card has been lost or stolen?
If you’ve had some bad luck and no longer have you green card in your possession, the good news is that there is an option for establishing your residency status and returning to the US. In this scenario, you will need to apply for a “Boarding Foil” at the nearest US embassy or consulate. A Boarding Foil is a single-use document that can grant you re-entry into the US without a valid green card.
To obtain a Boarding Foil, you must pay the filing fee for Form I-131A online and schedule an interview appointment to verify your immigration status in the US. This document can usually be obtained within 2-5 days, and it should only be used as a last-case scenario.
How to Apply for a Boarding Foil
The instructions for obtaining a Boarding Foil may vary depending on what country you are in. In general, you will need to follow these steps:
- Visit the USCIS website and pay the $575.00 USD* application fee.
- Save and print payment confirmation page.
- Follow country-specific instructions page for contacting the US embassy or consulate to make an appointment to appear in person.
- You may be asked to email scans of your documents to the consulate’s email address.
- Complete Form I-131A, Application for Travel Document (Carrier Documentation).
- Visit the Immigrant Visa Section of the local US embassy or consulate for your appointment and bring the following items:
- A completed Form I-131A;
- Copy of payment receipt for the I-131A online (printed confirmation page);
- Valid, unexpired passport;
- Your airplane tickets (including the ticket showing your departure date from the U.S.);
- Evidence of your legal status in the US, such as the admission stamp in your passport or a photocopy of your green card, if available;
- Evidence that you were in the United States within the last 12 months;
- Evidence/details of the theft or loss of your green card;
- One recent passport-style photo.
*Current filing fee as of 08/01/209