USCIS Form I-131 is the application for a Travel document.
Sometimes the form is referred to as INS Form I-131 because, previously to the USCIS, the INS was the main agency in charge of immigration forms.USCIS replaced INS and began reviewing INS forms in 2003 after the creation of the Department of Homeland Security.
If you are a permanent resident or a foreign national living in the U.S., filing Form I-131 may be necessary in case you’re leaving the U.S. for a long period of time and wish to return without any problems with immigration and customs enforcement.
If you are a permanent or conditional resident and you are leaving the country for one year or more, Form I-131 will allow you to obtain a re-entry permit. This is necessary because if you stay outside the U.S. for one year or more, then USCIS may regard it as you abandoning your permanent residency. This may lead to you having to plea you case in front of a judge.
The re-entry permit would stop the USCIS from viewing your long stay out of the country negatively.
When filing for a re-entry permit, you must file at least 60 days before leaving the U.S. The re-entry permit is valid for two years from the date of issuance.
Form I-131 is also used to apply for two other types of travel documents beside the re-entry permit:
- Advance Parole Documentto allow travel to people already inside the U.S. who wants to travel but has an adjustment of status application pending
- Refugee Travel Document to allow travel outside the U.S. to people with refugee or asylum status