The I-131 Application for Travel Document is a form that a foreign national submits to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in order to apply for one of various types of travel document (for foreign travel and return to the United States). The costs associated with filing an I-131 application depend on what kind of travel document you are applying for and whether or not you decide to use the help of an immigration attorney.
The different travel documents you can apply for using the I-131 application are:
We'll discuss the fee structure for these below.
The filing fee for the I-131 application depends on the travel document you are applying for. The fees are as follows (early 2023 figures, but double check, as USCIS has proposed to raise immigration fees later in the year):
If you are also filing an I-485 application for adjustment of status, there is no filing fee for the I-131 application, assuming you are submitting it in order to request advance parole or a refugee travel document.
If you are applying for humanitarian-based advance parole and are unable to pay the fee, you can request a waiver by submitting USCIS Form I-912 Fee Waiver Request along with your application.
USCIS raises its fees on a fairly regular basis, so always check the USCIS Web page for Form I-131 to confirm the fee that applies to you before you file. You can also find out the current filing fees by calling the USCIS Contact Center at 1-800-375-5283.
When you first meet with an attorney, you will almost always have to pay a consultation fee. A consultation fee can range anywhere from $75 to several hundred dollars depending on where the attorney is located and the size of the firm they work for.
At this stage of the process, you should ask the attorney whether the consultation fee will be deducted from the final bill if you decide to retain their services.
Most attorneys will charge a flat fee for preparing an I-131 application. An average flat fee for the entire I-131 process can be anywhere from $250 to $1,000, depending on what travel document you are applying for.
If you are applying for advance parole or a refugee travel document as part of an I-485 application for adjustment of status, the attorney will generally charge you a flat fee for the adjustment of status process that will include preparation of the I-131 application.
An attorney will typically perform the following services with a flat fee:
A flat fee is normally a good deal, particularly if you have a complicated case that requires a lot of documentation. Some attorneys might charge you at an hourly rate, however. This could be a better option if you have a straightforward case or have already completed the I-131 application on your own and simply want the attorney to review it.
The downside to being charged hourly is that your fee will be less predictable and, depending on your case, you could end up spending more than you would have if you had paid a flat fee. For example, if you prepared your own application and it contains lots of mistakes, it is possible the attorney might spend more time fixing your work than if they'd started from scratch.
It is always a good idea to contact several attorneys to ask about their fees before scheduling your consultation. No matter what, make sure you select an attorney you feel comfortable with.