I have received an I-797 form that approves my I-130 application (Petition For Alien Resident). I even saw the A number indicated on this form (the A number that prints on the green card), assuming it belongs to me. However, I still didn't get the physical green card: maybe the post office is short on staff or out of fuel, who knows :-)

My question: can I travel by air within the US (I need to fly to NY and back to Miami) as I'm a little troubled because my foreign passport has an expired visa on it. Will the Customs and Border Protection worker turn me in to the immigration police?

  • 2
    Did you also file an I-485 adjustment of status and, if so, did you receive an I-797 acknowledging that? The I-130 alone won't get a green card.
    – user38879
    Nov 2, 2017 at 23:57
  • 3
    First of all, US visas are only for entry and have nothing to do with how long you can stay in the US. Someone can enter the US on the day the visa expires and be admitted for months or years depending on the particular status. So having an expired visa doesn't by itself actually say anything about whether you are in status or not.
    – user102008
    Nov 3, 2017 at 1:26
  • @user102008 the asker of the question appears to know that but to be concerned that not everyone looking at his passport will know that.
    – phoog
    Nov 3, 2017 at 21:41

2 Answers 2


Yes, you can fly domestically within the US.

Although you are not out of status, you should read the questions on this site concerning domestic travel by those who are. The answers make it clear that your concern about being asked for proof of immigration status is likely to be ill founded, except in some well defined cases where you are likely to encounter Border Patrol officers.

There are some questions here about traveling domestically in the US while being "out of status." These cover the likelihood that you will be questioned about your immigration status, which is extremely low unless you're flying through McAllen or Brownsville, or perhaps another airport within 100 miles of the Mexican border (it's also possible near the Canadian border, but I haven't seen evidence that it actually happens):

  1. I'm out of status but want to travel from Los Angeles to New York, USA
  2. Traveling inside the U.S. with a tourist visa from 3 years ago
  3. Expired visa, can I still fly inside US without risk?

You are better situated than the askers of the first two questions, and possibly of the third, because you are actually in the US legally. To summarize:

  • Airline staff are not interested in your immigration status. They just want an ID document that matches the name on the electronic ticket.
  • You mention Customs and Border Protection. You will not encounter CBP officers during a domestic flight.
  • TSA (security) staff are not interested in your immigration status. They are not trained to determine immigration status and they will not look at any page in your passport other than the one with your picture and name. I can attest to this from personal experience flying domestically in the US using a foreign passport for identification.
  • There is a chance when you travel in some airports that Border Patrol officers will be working at the TSA checkpoint. Border Patrol is one of the "immigration police" forces (the other being Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE). Only these officers will be interested in your immigration status. If you have a pending adjustment of status application, you should be fine.
  • 2
    The question did not state that the poster was out of status. Is there a reason you are assuming they are?
    – Doc
    Nov 3, 2017 at 6:27
  • @Doc I explicitly do not make that assumption ("You are better situated than the askers of the first two questions, and possibly of the third, because you are actually in the US legally"). The questions share an interest in the likelihood of being asked about immigration status, which is low indeed; that is why I referred to the other questions. Note that in the third case it is not clear whether the asker of the question is out of status.
    – phoog
    Nov 3, 2017 at 21:36

For a domestic flight within the US, the airline staff establish your identity through your documentation. This can be something like a US state drivers license, or an international passport. Airline staff are not trained immigration officers, and won't even look for a valid visa in your passport. As long as your passport is valid, it should be perfectly acceptable.

If you have a US state drivers license, that's an even easier way that does not involve your passport at all.

  • 1
    It's not only the airline staff. They also need to go through TSA security screening which will require one of the IDs they accept (the ones you mentioned are accepted).
    – user102008
    Nov 3, 2017 at 1:30

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