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Traveling by plane is the fastest and most convenient way to get around the United States. For immigrants, whether they can fly domestically depends on their immigration status in the country.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Immigrants with proper documentation like visas, green cards, work permits, etc. can travel by plane within the US freely. Undocumented immigrants cannot travel via air.

In this comprehensive article, we will go over key factors that determine if an immigrant can fly domestically, the required travel documents based on immigration status, identification needed at the airport, and steps to take to ensure smooth security screening and boarding.

Immigration Status and Eligibility to Fly

When it comes to traveling by plane in the US, the immigration status of an individual plays a crucial role in determining their eligibility.

Let’s take a closer look at how different immigration statuses affect one’s ability to fly within the country.

Lawful Permanent Residents

Lawful Permanent Residents, also known as green card holders, have the right to travel freely within the United States.

They can board domestic flights without any restrictions and do not require additional documentation beyond their valid green card.

Green card holders enjoy the same privileges as US citizens when it comes to air travel, making it easy for them to explore different parts of the country.

Temporary Visa Holders

Temporary visa holders, such as those on H-1B or F-1 visas, are generally allowed to travel within the US. However, it is important for them to have their valid visa and relevant travel documents with them at all times.

These documents may include the I-94 arrival/departure record, passport, and any other supporting documentation required by their specific visa category.

It’s worth noting that visa holders should ensure that their visa status remains valid throughout their travel period. If a visa is close to expiration or has already expired, it may lead to complications when traveling and reentering the country.

Undocumented Immigrants

Undocumented immigrants, also known as illegal immigrants, face significant challenges when it comes to air travel within the US.

In general, airlines require passengers to provide a valid form of government-issued identification before boarding a domestic flight.

Since undocumented immigrants do not possess legal identification, they may face difficulties in boarding planes.

Furthermore, airports have security checkpoints where passengers’ identification is verified. If an undocumented immigrant is unable to provide proper identification, they may be denied access to the boarding area.

DACA Recipients

Individuals who have been granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status have more flexibility when it comes to air travel.

DACA recipients are issued work permits and Social Security numbers, which can be used as valid forms of identification for domestic flights.

However, it is important for DACA recipients to stay up to date with any changes in immigration policies or regulations that may affect their travel privileges.

Keeping an eye on official government websites and consulting with immigration attorneys can help ensure that they are well-informed and prepared for any potential travel restrictions.

Travel Documents Needed to Fly Domestically

Traveling by plane within the United States is a common occurrence for both citizens and immigrants alike.

However, it is essential for immigrants to understand the specific travel documents they need in order to comply with the regulations set by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and other relevant authorities.

Here are the key documents that immigrants may need to fly domestically:


While a passport is primarily used for international travel, it can also serve as a valid form of identification for domestic flights.

Immigrants who possess a valid passport from their home country can use it as an acceptable form of identification when traveling within the United States.

Green Card

For immigrants who hold a Green Card (officially known as a Permanent Resident Card), this document is typically sufficient for domestic air travel.

The Green Card serves as proof of an individual’s permanent resident status in the United States and is recognized as a valid form of identification by the TSA.


In some cases, immigrants may be traveling within the United States on a valid visa.

While a visa alone may not be sufficient for domestic air travel, it is important for immigrants to carry their visa documentation along with their passport or Green Card when flying domestically.

This ensures that they have the necessary documents to confirm their legal status in the country.

Advance Parole

Advance Parole is a document issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that allows certain individuals with pending immigration applications to travel internationally and reenter the United States.

In most cases, individuals with Advance Parole can also use this document for domestic air travel.

Employment Authorization Document

For immigrants who have been granted employment authorization in the United States, the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) serves as a valuable form of identification.

While the EAD is primarily used to demonstrate an individual’s eligibility to work, it can often be accepted as a valid form of identification for domestic air travel as well.

State ID/Driver’s License

Many states in the United States issue identification cards or driver’s licenses to immigrants who do not yet have a Green Card.

These state-issued IDs can often be used for domestic air travel, but it is important to check with the specific airline and TSA guidelines to ensure compliance.

It is worth noting that the specific travel document requirements may vary depending on the airline and the individual’s immigration status.

Therefore, it is always recommended for immigrants to check with the airline and review the TSA guidelines before traveling domestically by plane.

Identification Required at Airport Security

When it comes to traveling by plane in the United States, proper identification is crucial. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has strict guidelines in place to ensure the safety and security of all passengers.

It is important for immigrants to understand the identification requirements before heading to the airport for their flight.

TSA Acceptable IDs

The TSA accepts several forms of identification for air travel within the US. These include:

  • US passport
  • US passport card
  • Driver’s license or ID card issued by a state or territory of the US
  • Federally recognized, tribal-issued photo ID
  • HSPD-12 PIV card
  • US military ID
  • Permanent resident card

It is important to note that the identification must be valid and not expired. If an immigrant does not possess any of these acceptable forms of identification, there are alternatives available.

Secondary Screening

If an immigrant does not have an acceptable form of identification, they will be subject to secondary screening.

This process involves additional security measures to verify the traveler’s identity. The TSA agent may ask the individual a series of questions or request additional documents to confirm their identity.

It is recommended that immigrants who do not possess an acceptable ID arrive at the airport early to allow for sufficient time for the secondary screening process. This will help ensure a smooth and stress-free travel experience.

Preparing for Airport Screening as an Immigrant

Bring Proper Documentation

When traveling by plane in the United States as an immigrant, it is crucial to ensure that you have all the necessary documentation with you.

This includes your valid passport with the appropriate visa or immigration status, such as a Green Card or work permit.

It is recommended to carry copies of these documents as well, in case they are lost or misplaced. Additionally, if you have any other relevant documents, such as employment letters or sponsor letters, it is wise to bring them along, as they may help clarify your purpose of travel to the airport authorities.

Arrive Early

As an immigrant traveling by plane in the US, it is advisable to arrive at the airport well in advance to allow ample time for the security screening process.

Immigration checks can sometimes take longer for immigrants, so it is better to be prepared and give yourself extra time.

Arriving early also helps to avoid any last-minute stress or rushing, ensuring a smoother travel experience. It is recommended to check the airport’s website or contact the airline to know the suggested arrival time for international travelers.

Know Your Rights

It is important for immigrants traveling by plane in the US to be aware of their rights during the airport screening process.

Familiarize yourself with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) guidelines, which outline the rights and procedures that apply to all passengers, regardless of their immigration status.

The TSA website provides detailed information on what to expect during the screening process, including your rights regarding privacy and personal belongings.

Being informed about your rights can help you navigate the airport screening with confidence.


In summary, immigrants in the US with legal status like permanent residents, visa holders, DACA recipients, etc. can travel by plane within the country by presenting valid travel documents like passport, green card, EAD, etc. Undocumented immigrants cannot fly domestically.

Proper identification is required at airport security and immigrants may undergo additional screening. Arriving early and knowing your rights can help ensure a smooth process.

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