Any non-U.S. citizen who has plans to travel abroad from the USA should be well versed with this document. This form is for those immigrants who are settled in the USA and wish to travel abroad. Form I-131 is a unique form that safeguards your international travel and helps you return to the USA. If you do not have any idea of how this form works, then we have listed all the basics of the Form I-131 Processing time, application filling, and many more details below.
- 1 I-131 Processing Time
- 1.1 Types of Travel Documents Needed
- 1.2 Documents Needed to File for Form I-131
- 1.3 How to Fill the Application Form and the USCIS Form I-131 Processing Time?
- 1.3.1 Filling the Form
- 22.214.171.124 Part 1: Information About You
- 126.96.36.199 Part 2: Application Type
- 188.8.131.52 Part 3: Processing Information
- 184.108.40.206 Part 7: Complete Only if applying for Advance Parole
- 220.127.116.11 Part 8: Signature of the Applicant
- 18.104.22.168 Part 9: Information About Person Who Prepared This Application, If Other Than the Applicant
- 1.3.2 Where Should the Form Be Submitted?
- 1.3.1 Filling the Form
- 1.4 Form I-131 Processing Time
- 1.5 What is Expedited Processing?
- 1.6 About U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services(USCIS)
- 1.7 Conclusion
- 2 Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ’s)
I-131 Processing Time
This form is a travel document that is used by all immigrants residing in the USA who wish to go overseas. Form I-131 application ensures a safe return to the USA. Before you plan your journey, fill this application with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Although this document is necessary for all immigrants, it is also used by many green card holders as well.
Green card holders do not need to show any other documents besides a valid green card to travel in and out of the country, but if the international travel was more than a year, this Form I-131 is required. Therefore, the international stay for a green card holder should not exceed more than a year. This form is required to apply for a re-entry permit if the USA citizen was living outside the USA for a year. Additionally, even if they have the permit, they must ensure that the travel does not cross two years for the first two re-entry permits.
Types of Travel Documents Needed
Once the person files for Form I-131 with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, then they are granted any one of the following three forms:
- Reentry Permit : This permit is grated to USA citizens who left the country for more than a year. Technically, if a USA citizen stays outside the country for more than a year, their PR Card becomes revoked and their permanent residence in the USA is considered abandoned. To prevent these two problems, you file Form I-131, which specifies that you had no intentions to abandon the country and you are applying for a re-entry into the U.S. These permits are valid for only up to 2 years since the day it is issued.
- Refugee Travel Document: Any person with the Refugee or Asylum Status can apply for this document before they travel outside the USA. This form is important to have a safe journey back. This document is valid for up to 1 year since the day it is issued. The Refugee travel document can also replace a passport while the person is travelling overseas.
- Advance Parole: This is a form of a temporary document that is issued by the USA to an immigrant who is awaiting any pending application. With this form, the immigrant travels internationally while at the same time their application for a PR card is in the processing stage. An Advanced Parole form on the basis of their pending applications to Register for Permanent Residence or Adjust Status lets them visit internationally and safely return to the U.S. soil without having any major impact on their status.
Documents Needed to File for Form I-131
The major set of documents that a person requires while they are applying for Form I-131 includes their application form, personal details such as Name, Address, etc., personal photo IDs. Other additional documents that you might need based on your current situation are as follows:
- A copy of Form I-551(both front and back)
- A copy of the Form I-797
- Visa page that confirms that they are permanent residents of the country
Refugee Travel Documents:
- Travel permit USCIS(a travel permit confirming the refugee or asylum status along with the expiration date of the status)
For People Who Are Living in the USA
- Documents that confirm the present status of the person
- Any evidence that confirms the reasons for applying for an Advance Parole
- Or a copy of the USCIS receipt that determines that you filed for an adjustment status
For People Outside the USA
- A copy of the Form I-134
- Documents specifying why you need an Advance Parole
- Evidence of any pending application
How to Fill the Application Form and the USCIS Form I-131 Processing Time?
Filling the Form
You can either fill the form manually or type it on the computer. If you chose to fill the form by hand, use black ink. Just in case your answers do not fit into the space provided, then you can attach an additional sheet to the end of the form. On this sheet, write your name and the Alien Registration number(if applicable). Continue to write the additional information by clearly specifying the Part and the Number. Finally, the Sign and Date are at the bottom of the sheet. Type/Write N/A if the question does not apply to you.
Part 1: Information About You
This part asks for your basic personal details such as Name, Residential Address, Class of Admission. The Class of Admission can be found on your visa when you entered the U.S.
Part 2: Application Type
In this part, you need to check box 1.d. You do not have to check any other box in Part 2
Part 3: Processing Information
Question 1 and 2 ask for the details of how long will your departure last along with the date. Fill this information in if you have an idea of how long you will be gone. If not, then you can mention TBD which stands for To Be Determined. The next question, 3a. Asks if you are in any immigrant proceedings. Check the box for No if you want to be eligible for Advance Parole. Then, answer question number 4.
Now, you can directly jump to Part 7 as you have to leave Part 4,5, and 6 blank.
Part 7: Complete Only if applying for Advance Parole
Mention the documents that indicate that the application for Advance Parole has been submitted. If a person has submitted an application for a green card, they can attach a copy of the USCIS receipt for any pending application. Questions 2,3 and 4 are for those who are outside the US. Leave them blank.
Part 8: Signature of the Applicant
Make sure to sign the document properly as USCIS might reject your application if the signature isn’t there. Write down the date and the phone number so that you can be reached out to whenever needed.
Part 9: Information About Person Who Prepared This Application, If Other Than the Applicant
This section can only be filled by a person who has filled the application on behalf of the applicant. For e.g., an attorney. you can leave this blank otherwise.
Once the entire application is filled correctly, make sure to take a few copies of it and keep them with you. Send this application to the address that applies to you, mentioned on the USCIS Direct Filling Addresses Form I-131. Take a careful look at the page, as the address that you send your application to will depend on whether you are filing Form I-131 with Form I-485.
Where Should the Form Be Submitted?
Form I-131 can be sent either through mail or email. If the application is sent through the mail, you must be careful about the mailing address as every mailing address depends on the immigration status. So, select the address based on your immigration status and the kind of travel documents you need.
To send the form through email, you will be given information regarding where the supporting documents must be sent. You will receive a confirmation after sending the application. This confirmation can be attached to the documents which are to be mailed to the USCIS. For more information on addresses, you can take a look at the USCIS website for Filling Addresses.
Form I-131 Processing Time
Form I-131 Processing Time takes about 3-6 months for all the travel documents types. For more information on processing times, you can take a look at the USCIS processing times. In this past year, many immigrants have seen a tremendous increase in the processing systems. As of 2021, the Form I-131 processing time might take up to 6-7 months. For green card applications, the processing time can reach up to 13 months. This significant increase is mostly due to the restrictions imposed amid Covid-19 which led the USCIS offices to operate for only a minimum number of hours in a day.
Additionally, every candidate is allotted a field office based on their Zip codes to speed up the processing. Now, every field office has a specific timeline for processing. As there are a million applications on a regular basis, this might slow down your Form I-131 Processing Time.
What to Do if Your Form I-131 Processing Time Is Exceeding?
If you believe that the wait is longer than usual, then look out for the USCIS case status online. On this page, one can revisit the status of one’s case with just a few clicks. USCIS will share details on the application status depending on whether you are inside the USA or outside. Note that the process to check for the application status differs for both.
Check Your Uscis Case Status Online
To check the USCIS case status online, a receipt number is essential. This 13-digit number is assigned to each visa. Check the status once you believe that the Form i-131 processing time has crossed a significant amount of time. Just enter the 13-digit receipt number on the page and press Check Status. Here are a few points that you must remember while you are entering the receipt number:
- The receipt number contain 3 letter and 10 numbers which must be entered correctly
- You can omit any dashes (-), but you can include any other characters such as (*)
- The result will show the latest action that was taken on your application form
What is Expedited Processing?
If the Form I-131 processing time is taking longer than usual, you can opt for expedited processing for an emergency situation. An Expedited Processing refers to an act where the USCIS processes the application quickly, better than normal, which might sometimes take up to 7-13 months. You can apply for Expedited Processing if the situations are similar to the ones listed below.
- In emergency situations
- if the company will incur severe financial loss or the person is going to incur severe financial loss
- USCIS errors
- Humanitarian reasons
- Depending on the interest of the U.S. government
Note that you will not be granted expedited processing if you have failed to file for an application for Form I-131. Additionally, if you fail to respond to the request for further evidence, your expedited processing might not be accepted.
So, How Can You Apply for Expedited Processing?
Getting an expedited processing request can be difficult if you do not have a solid reason. If you fall in one f the above categories, you can request expedited processing in the following manner:
- Write a cover letter by explaining why you are in need of expedited processing. You should also be able to prove that you fall into any of the above-mentioned categories
- This is followed by gathering all the required documentation that supports your claims. Gather as much evidence as possible which can mark as a solid proof. If you fail to do so, your application is rejected without further ado
- Ensure that your application for Form I-131 is completed on time. Structure your documents well without leaving any room for mistakes, as such minute issues can further lag your Form I-131 processing time.
- Follow up on the request that you have made by contacting the USCIS a week after the application is sent. You can call the National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283
You need to understand that applying for expedited processing may not always work in your favor, given that you have failed to collect proper evidence. Remember that you need to file Form i-131 way before you have made any travel plans. If you are applying for a green card, and you are traveling without applying for Advance Parole, then any such negligence can have a drastic impact on your immigration status.
About U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services(USCIS)
The legacy of USCIS began in 1891 when the Office of Immigration was opened by Congress. In the following decades, as the ratio of immigrants increased, so did the responsibilities of the federal immigration services. After the Great Depression, there was a significant change in the immigration processes, law enforcement, and border patrol activities. USCIS came into the picture in 2003, when there was a need to protect and enhance the security of immigrants.
The mission of the USCIS is to look after its citizens and administer lawful immigration services by safeguarding its people. They are also responsible for providing benefits to the people alongside protecting their homeland. Currently, there are 19,000 federal government employees who work for USCIS field offices which are more than 200 in number located across the world.
USCIS is based on four major values which are Integrity, Respect, innovation, and Vigilance. Through these core values, USCIS claims to approach every case based on the rules and laws applied by the government. USCIS ensures that every applicant will be treated fairly and equally irrespective of the outcomes of their case.
Form I-131 is a travel document that is required if you are an immigrant who has international plans. This application should be filed months in advance if you have any upcoming international plans. Before the departure, keep a check on what are the necessary travel document that you might need for a successful return. Based on your immigration status, you can file for Form i-131 along with any additional documents to have a safe journey that will not pose a threat to your status.
For permanent citizens, who were living abroad for about a year, should file for Form I-131 if they want to re-enter the country. Although Form I-131 Processing time takes more than a couple of months, you can request to have your processing done in its earnest by applying for expedited processing. To keep track of your application status, you can check it on the USCIS website.
We hope that with this article, you have all the basic information that is necessary to file a Form I-131 application. For more details, you can check the official site of USCIS.
Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ’s)
Form I-131 has different validity timelines. For a Re-entry permit, the validity lasts up to 2 years from the date of issue. Refugee travel documents stay valid for a year, and the same goes for Advance Parole.
The fee that you might end up paying depends on your immigration status. It usually lies between $107- $575.
Form I-131 processing time is usually between 3-7 months depending on the Application Service centers.