Planning to travel internationally soon? If you’re a non-citizen, a refugee, or CNMI long-term resident there are some steps you need to take to protect your status before you depart the U.S. Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, serves a number of purposes including to apply for a reentry permit, refugee travel document, and advance parole whether you are outside the United States, currently in the U.S. or for CNMI long-term residents. In this post we’ll explore the requirements to file Form I-131 among other important details to travel outside the U.S. or reenter the country.

Form I-131 for a Reentry Permit

One common reason individuals need to file Form I-131 Application for Travel Document is to apply for a reentry permit. This permits LPRs/conditional permanent residents to apply for admission into the U.S. after having traveled abroad (while the permit is valid) without having to get a returning resident visa from the U.S. Consulate or Embassy overseas. While lawful permanent residents can typically travel out of the country and come back in, it’s important to apply for a re-entry permit to avoid having your Permanent Resident Card become invalid (this happens in you are out of the U.S. for one year or longer). Likewise, a reentry permit can avoid having your permanent residence status considered abandoned by immigration officials if you take up residence in another country for a period less than 1 year. In either case, immigration professionals will advise you to obtain a reentry permit. Otherwise, if you’re status is considered abandonment then you might need to take your case in front of an immigration judge. It’s necessary to mention that you need to be physically present in the United States when you File Form I-131 for a reentry permit and you should do so at least 60 days before the anticipated travel.

You will need to provide the following documents when applying for a reentry permit:

  • Copy of official photo I.D. (i.e., state issued driver’s license, permanent resident card, passport, etc.)
  • Evidence proving your lawful permanent residency (i.e., copy of both sides of your Permanent Resident Card
  • Two identical passport-style photos taken within 30 days
  • Photocopy of Form I-797 if you cannot provide a permanent resident card

After USCIS processes your I-131 for a reentry permit, you will receive a writen notice of the date of your biometric services appointment where your fingerprint, photo and signature will be taken. This step is required.

How long is the reentry permit good for? 

You can use the reentry permit to apply for admission for up to two years. If necessary, you are able to leave the U.S. while your I-131 is pending and you are not required to be physically in the U.S. when USCIS approves your application.

How long does it take to get advance parole?

You can expect processing time to take on average 3-5 months. Discuss with your immigration lawyer the most accurate time frames to account for service center delays.

Travel Document for Refugees

For those who hold refugee or asylee status but are not lawful permanent residents, you are required to have a Refugee Travel Document in order to return to the United States after being overseas; exceptions for those who have an Advance Parole Document. Upon entry at the U.S. port-of-entry, you should show your refugee travel document to the DHS officer.

To apply for a refugee travel document, you will need the following:

  • Copy of official photo I.D.
  • Proof of status as refugee or asylee
  • A statement on a separate piece of paper from Form I-131 explaining your answer to any question you answer ‘yes’ to in Part 6.

If you are applying from outside the United States include”

  • Two identical passport-style photos taken within 30 days
  • Proof of your last date of departure from the U.S. if possible. Examples include boarding or airplane tickets
  • Receipts that you have paid the appropriate filing fees
  • A statement explaining the reason for your trip outside of the country (plus any evidence you have to support it), why you left the U.S. without first applying or a refugee travel document, list of places you visited since exiting the United States, any activities you participated in while outside the U.S.  and if your intention was to abandon your refugee/asylee status when deciding to leave the U.S.

Advance Parole Document for Those in the U.S.

An advanced parole document permits foreign nationals to enter into the U.S. for a designated purpose, while they are still considered “an applicant for admission” during their time paroled in the U.S.

DHS, as a matter of discretion, may issue an Advance Parole Document to authorize an alien to appear at a port-ofentry to seek parole into the United States. The document may be accepted by a transportation company in lieu of a visa as an authorization for the holder to travel to the United States. An Advance Parole Document is not issued to serve in place of any required passport.

Be mindful that the Department of Homeland Security maintains the right to revoke or terminate your Advance Parole Document at any point when you are in or outside of the U.S. If you have applied for adjustment of status to LPR and leave the U.S. without getting an Advance Parole Document first, your application will be considered abandoned unless it is pending and you are currently in one of the classifications below or would be eligible for one of the following upon reentry at a port of admission:

  • H-1 temporary worker, or H-4 spouse or child of an H-1;
  • L-1 intracompany transferee or L-2 spouse or child of an L-1;
  • K-3 spouse, or K-4 child of a U.S. citizen;
  • V-1 spouse, or V-2/V-3 child of a lawful permanent resident

Be prepared to provide the following documents if applying for advance parole document from inside the U.S.:

  • Copy of official photo I.D.
  • Two identical passport-style photos taken within 30 days
  • Proof of your current status in the US.
  • Evidence proving your trip is for humanitarian, educational or employment reasons
  • A statement explaining why your situation necessitates an advance parole document
  • Copy of USCIS receipt showing your filed an adjustment of status application (if applicable to you)
  • Copy of U.S. consular appointment letter (for those traveling to Canada to apply for visa)

Advance Parole Document for Individuals Outside the U.S.

Advance Parole for individuals outside of the U.S. is infrequently granted but is it possible in order to “allow an otherwise inadmissible alien to travel to the United States and to seek parole into the United States for a temporary period of time due to urgent humanitarian reasons or for significant public benefit.”

To apply for advance parole for someone outside the U.S. you will need to provide the following:

  • Copy of official photo I.D. for beneficiary, sponsor or petitioner
  • Copy of beneficiary’s passport identify page
  • A statement explaining the humanitarian reason or public benefit reason for the need for parole
  •  Completed Form I-134 with appropriate documentation as described in the form instructions;
  • A statement explaining why the beneficiary cannot obtain a U.S. visa (if applicable);
  • A statement explaining why the beneficiary cannot obtain a waiver of inadmissibility (if applicable); and
  • A copy of any decision on immigrant/nonimmigrant applications or petitions

Advance Permission to Travel (CNMI Long-Term Residents)

CNMI long-term residents (those not permitted to travel to the rest of the U.S. otherwise) can apply for advance permission which permits them to travel to other parts of the country only for “temporary and legitimate purposes without automatically terminating their CNMI long-term resident status.” If you fall in this category, you need to get advance permission prior to traveling to other parts of the U.S. otherwise you risk terminating your status entirely.

Form I-131 Filing Fee

The fee for the form will depend on the type of document or permit you are applying for as well as your age. See the chart below and notice the different tiers and fees allocated by age and document type.

i-131 filing fee


Frequently Asked Questions

Do I have to translate my documents not in English? 

Yes, any documents not in English need to come with a certified English translation.

What is an I-131?

An I-131 is a form used to apply for a reentry permit, refugee travel document, and advance parole or Advance Permission for CNMI long-term residents.

Who qualifies for an I-131?

The I-131 is designed for non-citizens who are seeking a reentry permit, refugees or asylees seeking a travel document, those in the U.S. who do not want their status considered abandoned while their adjustment of status is pending, and CNMI long-term residents not permitted to travel to the rest of the U.S. otherwise.

What is form I-131 processing time?

You can expect the I-131 processing time to be between 3-5 months. Additional delays can be expected if your filing packet is incomplete.

Where to send the Form I-131?

You can always reference a list of filing addresses for Form I-131, Application for Travel Document.

What is class of admission on Form I-131?

On the form, class of admission means your visa category that you were admitted into the U.S. under (i.e., conditional permanent resident, permanent resident)

What is Form I-131 fee?

See the section above for a chart detailing the I-131 fees based on purpose and age. You may qualify for a fee waiver; discuss this option with your immigration representative.

How much time can be requested for being out of the US when filing form I-131?

A reentry permit for LPRs is valid for 2 years from when issued (no extensions available). A refugee travel document and advance parole travel document are each valid for 1 year. The advance parole travel document is able to be granted as a single entry or multiple entry document.