FORM I-131: TRAVEL DOCUMENTS
Introduction To Form I-131
Traveling in and out of the U.S. comes with its stifling terms and conditions. However, Form I-131 (Application for Travel Document) is your key to scaling through them. This form is a core requirement for the approval of your re-entry permit, refugee travel document, or advance parole. Yes – the same form is used for three different types of travel documents!
This article explains the difference and how to tell whether you qualify to file it, and if so, for which type of travel document.
It allows lawful or conditional residents to exit and re-enter without having to file for the returning resident visa at the U.S. Embassy. Also, as a refugee or lawful resident, this form allows you to return to the U.S. with less hassle. It validates your Refugee Travel Document, which is your pass in and out of the U.S..
Moreover, if you’re not a permanent resident, conditional resident, or refugee/asylee and you’re in the United States and need to leave, and want to be able to re-enter, you’ll need valid parole. Parole is a type of valid, lawful entry into the United States. Form I-131 allows you to file for this parole in advance – that is, before you leave. Hence it’s called “advance parole.”
Who Should File Form I-131?
It is noteworthy that Form I-131 is not available nor necessary for all persons. Only those who fall under select categories need to file this form. These select categories are:
- Candidates for Reentry Permit; You must be physically present in the United States to file Form I-131 for your reentry permit. Furthermore, this applies to both lawful permanent or conditional permanent residents, as only these categories of people are allowed to apply for a re-entry permit.
- Candidates for Refugee Travel Document; A valid refugee or asylee may file Form I-131 to secure their refugee travel document before traveling. A person who gains LPR status as a result of their refugee or asylee status may also file this Form. However, If you fail to file Form I-131, you could be barred from reentering the United States. You may come from a country that you cannot (or should not) renew your passport, so in these cases, a RTD is very useful indeed!
- Advance Parole Documents for Individuals Currently in the United States; If you’re in the United States with a pending application to adjust your residency status, and an urgent need to travel out of the U.S. for “humanitarian” reasons, Form I-131 applies to you. The form further applies to persons with pending or processed applications for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) – Form I-821, and, as of December 7, 2020, for holders of DACA.
- Advance Parole Documents for Persons outside the United States; Just like individuals currently resident in the U.S. and desire to travel out for urgent humanitarian reasons, Form I-131 helps garner parole for persons outside the United States who seek to travel in for humanitarian reasons or for significant public benefit.
Simple Instructions For Form I-131
First, you need to obtain the form from USCIS’s website here.
However, If you cannot access the USCIS website, you can request a printed copy of the form. You can do this by contacting the USCIS Contact Center at 1-800-375-5283. Do not pay just to receive immigration forms! If someone tries to sell you an immigration form, you are getting scammed.
- Ensure that you answered all questions correctly – it is a must. Also, should a question not apply to you, type or print “N/A” in response.
- The USCIS Form I-131 must be filled in only black ink. Electronically, you can only type or print legibly in black ink.
- All evidence and supporting documentation must be submitted at the time of you filing the form. Furthermore, you should only submit original copies of the documents if USCIS specifically requests them. But if they do not request them, you submit only photocopies.
- All submitted evidence and supporting documents must be in the English language. However, if your submitted documents are in a different language, you must submit their translated versions along with the original language version.
These simple instructions are to serve as a guide to your application process. However, for full details, read through the Form I-131 instructions here.
What Are The Filing Fees For Each Travel Documents?
Each category under Form I-131 comes with a filing fee.
- Reentry Permit filing fee is $575. Furthermore, it requires a biometric service fee payment of $85 for applicants between the ages of 14 – 79.
- The Refugee Travel Document filing fee for candidates 16 years and above is $135. However, children younger than age 16 require a fee of $105. Additionally, the biometric service fee is $85 for candidates between the ages 14 through 79.
- For Advance Parole applications for Individuals Inside the U.S., the filing fee is $575 with biometric service fee inclusive. However, applicants outside the U.S. may waive the filing fee if they can convincingly demonstrate their inability to pay.
Cons Of Filling The Form Incorrectly
There are penalties for filing Form I-131 incorrectly. Where there are instances of forgery, concealing relevant fact,s or the submission of a fake document, the form will not be accepted.
Most importantly, many times your reason for travel can be questioned. We have had clients get in trouble for stating they needed to travel for some reason, and then years later it becomes apparent that the reason given either wasn’t true or wasn’t the whole truth. The reason for travel is perhaps the most important consideration after whether you qualify to file. Even unwitting mistakes can cause trouble years after the fact.
Nonetheless, USCIS has a friendly policy of taking responsibility for any mistake made in your application by USCIS without any cost implication on you.
Get It Right The First Time! Contact Us!
Errors are fatal to your application for travel documents. You must avoid them – No matter what!
And we can help!
We focus our practice on everything immigration.
Our excellent immigration attorneys at The HMA Law Firm will ensure that your application is hassle and error-free.
We only need a call from you to begin. So, book an appointment with us today.