Boarding Foil – Lost or Stolen Green Cards

Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issues Permanent Resident Cards (I-551) to immigrants who are legally admitted for residence 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 have one of the following items, a boarding foil is not required:
These individuals should consult their air carrier prior to applying for a boarding foil (completion of an I-131A form and payment of the fee), as carriers often have different requirements for boarding.

  • An expired Permanent Resident Card with a 10-year expiration date,
  • An expired Permanent Resident Card (with a two-year validity), and a Form I-797, Notice of Action, indicating that status is extended,

Note: If you have an expired Green Card with a 2-year expiration date AND a Form I-797, Notice of Action, showing that they have filed a Form I-751 or Form I-829 to remove the conditions on their permanent resident status, the Form I-797 extends the validity of the card for a specified length of time, generally one year.

  • Orders from the U.S. government (civilian or military) showing that time outside the U.S. was on official government business.
  • A valid Reentry Permit. 

Lost, Stolen or Expired Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) Card

If you are a U.S. Lawful Permanent Resident who has been out of the United States for less than one year, but you do not have a valid Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) “Green Card,” you may need a Boarding Foil to return to the United States (*see exceptions below). The USCIS Office in Ghana is now closed, and no longer issues transportation letters for this situation. Boarding foils are valid for a short time; LPRs must be able to travel within 30 days of issuance.

LPRs who have been outside the United States for more than one year may apply for SB-1 Returning Resident Status. Visit

For Boarding Foil application, please follow these steps:

1) Complete and print Form I-131A. Go to to retrieve the form and filing instructions. Complete and print the form.

2) Pay the fee for the I-131A online in ELIS. Be sure to read the instructions and ensure you meet minimum qualifications before you apply. As with all immigration fees, USCIS does not issue refunds, regardless of the decision on the application. The fee of $575.00 must be paid online prior to your appointment at the U.S. Embassy in Ghana and within one year of your departure date from the United States to be eligible. There is no other method of payment. Print the receipt.

3) Schedule your boarding foil appointment. The appointment must take place within 30 days of your intended return to the United States. To make an appointment send an email to: Along with your appointment request, send your payment receipt, completed Form I-131A, and a copy of the bio-page of your passport. If you have need for urgent travel, please request an expedited appointment and clearly explain your need.

 4) Prepare the required documents. Bring the following documents to your appointment:

  1. Appointment confirmation email
  2. Valid passport and a photocopy of the biometric page of your passport
  3. Completed Form I-131A
  4. Fee payment receipt in ELIS
  5. One passport-style photograph (2″ x 2″)
  6. Proof of your departure from the United States (flight ticket or e-ticket) within the last year.
  7. Information about intended return travel to United States
  8. Proof of your permanent resident status, if available
  9. Police report of stolen permanent resident card, if applicable
  10. Expired conditional (less than 10-year validity) LPR card, if applicable

5) Come to the appointment at the U.S. Embassy in Accra. The boarding foil application may take 2 days or more to process, and the applicant will have to return to the embassy for collection of the passport with the boarding foil.  Do not plan to return to the United States the same day as your interview.

*Expired Permanent Resident Cards – If you have an expired permanent resident card with a 10-year validity period, you do not need a boarding foil.  The airline may board you with the expired card, providing you meet all their other conditions for travel.

*U.S. Military Family Members with expired Permanent Resident Cards – You do not require a boarding foil if you are in possession of an expired permanent resident card with a 10-year validity period, and you are now returning after having resided outside the United States on official overseas U.S. military orders. You may travel with your expired card and military orders.