Lost Green Cards and Transportation Letters

A permanent resident located abroad who loses or has had his/her I-551 card (“green card”) stolen cannot receive a new green card abroad. However, it is possible to apply for a Transportation Letter (also called a Boarding Authorization Letter) at the nearest overseas USCIS office or consulate. This Letter instructs the airline that the holder is a US permanent resident or is otherwise entitled to entry into the United States and to permit the holder onto the airplane to travel to the United States. Upon arrival in the US, the US permanent resident can apply for and receive a new green card.

Another purpose of the Transportation Letter is to facilitate the travel of an individual who has been granted humanitarian parole by the USCIS. Instead of a visa, the individual applies to the nearest USCIS/consulate with the original approval notice and is issued the Transportation Letter.

In addition, a Transportation Letter can also be issued to a child, newly born in a foreign country, of a US Legal Permanent Resident mother. In order to apply, it is necessary to present a copy of the green card (if available), international passport, 2 photographs, and proof that he/she has not been outside the US for more than one year.

A USCIS refusal to issue the Transportation Letter can have serious consequences because it may strand the permanent resident outside the United States without any recourse, in effect, depriving him or her of status as a US permanent resident. For example, a problem may arise with issuance of the Letter if permanent residency status was gained as a refugee, and the I-551 card was lost in the country from which the person fled.

Because of the problems and severe consequences that can arise when applying for a Transportation Letter, one should contact the experienced professionals at White & Associates before applying for a Transportation Letter or if you have been refused a Transportation Letter.