U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issues Permanent Resident Cards (I-551) to immigrants who are legally admitted to reside in the United States. Permanent Resident Cards (commonly known as “Green Cards”) can only be issued or replaced in the United States and cannot be obtained overseas. If you believe you are eligible to return to the United States as a returning permanent resident but do not hold a valid legal permanent residency “Green Card” or other approved travel document, please review the information below. Attempting to travel to the United States without valid proof of residency may result in your being denied boarding on U.S.-bound flights or entry at the U.S. border.
If your Green Card has expired, you may still be able to use it to return to the United States. See below for details. Your LPR card only needs to be valid on the day that you are entering the United States.
If your Green Card has been lost, stolen, or destroyed, you may be able to obtain a “Boarding Foil” valid for maximum 30 days for a single entry. To qualify, you must not have been outside the United States for more than one year. Learn more about applying for a Boarding Foil below.
If you have been outside the United States for more than one year, or beyond the validity period of a Re-entry Permit, you will require a new immigrant visa to enter the United States and resume permanent residence. You can learn more about the documentation and fees to apply for an SB-1 (returning resident) visa on usvisas.state.gov. When you have collected the required documentation and fees for the initial interview, please contact the Consular Section at PraiaConsular@state.gov to request an appointment.
If you have a valid LPR Card, you do not need a passport to enter the United States. However, your airline may require a passport for travel and another country may require a passport for entry or transit. Please consult with your airline and any foreign country you will be traveling to to confirm their documentation requirements prior to travel.
If You Have an Expired Green Card
You may need to apply for a Boarding Foil if your Permanent Resident Card (“Green Card”) was valid for two years and has expired. However, a Boarding Foil is not required if you have one of the following:
- Orders from the U.S. government (civilian or military) showing that time spent outside the United States was on official U.S. government business;
- An expired Permanent Resident Card with a 10-year expiration date (see note below);
- An expired Permanent Resident Card with a two-year validity, and a Form I-797 Notice of Action, indicating that status is extended beyond the date of intended travel; or
- A Re-entry Permit that will be valid on the date of return to the United States.
Note: You do not need a Transportation Boarding Foil if you have an expired LPR card provided it was issued with a 10 year period of validity and if you have been outside the United States less than a year. However, some airlines may be reluctant to let you board with an expired card. If you encounter this situation, you should show the airline page 28 in the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) guide for carriers found in the CBP website.
How to Apply for a Boarding Foil
Step 1: Pay the I-131A filing fee online.
- If you plan to file a Form I-131A to apply for a LPR boarding foil, please note that you must pay the filing fee online before appearing in person at the consular section. The form and link to the fee payment site are at: https://www.uscis.gov/i-131a Be sure to read the instructions before you pay as the fee is not refundable regardless of the decision on the application. You will need your A-number in order to pay the fee.
- You must bring evidence of payment, in the form of a printed email receipt notice or confirmation page, when you appear in person to file Form I-131A. As with all immigration fees, USCIS does not issue refunds, regardless of the decision on the application. USCIS will also not provide applicants an I-131A fee payment refund if the individual should have applied for an SB-1 instead of a boarding foil, if the application for a boarding foil is denied, or if you later determine a boarding foil is not needed.
Step 2: Schedule an appointment.
- You must request an appointment at U.S. Embassy Praia by emailing PraiaConsular@state.gov.
- Please attach a copy of your fee payment receipt to your email.
- You will receive an email confirming your appointment date. Boarding Foils are processed during normal business hours only, and interviews will be scheduled on Mondays between 8am and noon absent evidence of an emergency.
Step 3: Bring all required documents to your interview.
- A completed Form I-131A Page 1 – 3 (and page 4-5 if applicable)
- Copy of payment receipt for the I-131A online, i.e. a printed email receipt or a confirmation page.
- Valid Cabo Verdean passport.
- Your airplane tickets, passport stamps, or other evidence that you were in the United States within the last 12 months.
- Evidence of your U.S. Lawful Permanent Resident status (e.g. passport showing the admission stamp to the United States as a Lawful Permanent Resident or copy of your green card if available).
- Police report to prove the Green Card was lost or stolen. A detailed explanation is required as to when and to whom you reported loss or theft of the card if police report is not available.
- One U.S. passport size photo taken within the last 30 days.
Processing time will depend on the circumstances of your case and the amount of information and evidence you provide.