As a U.S. permanent resident, you are issued a green card. The green card is your proof of lawful status as a U.S. permanent resident. This document proves your ability to live and work in the United States and so it is highly important.
So, what happens if you lose your green card?
In this guide, I’ll explain exactly how to replace a lost green card. I’ll explain what to do depending on whether your green card is lost while you are in the United States or if it is lost while you are abroad.
If you have any questions, please feel free to email me directly at Michael@AshooriLaw.com. I'm a U.S. immigration lawyer I’d be happy to help you.
- Lost Green Card in the United States
- Lost Green Card Outside of the United States
- Lost Green Card in the Mail
1. Lost Green Card in the United States
Fill-Out the Form I-90
If you lose your green card while you are in the United States, the first step is to file a Form I-90 with USCIS. The Form I-90 is the Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card. This is the main form used to replace a green card if it is lost, stolen, or expired. The I-90 can be filed online or it can be physically mailed.
Include the Correct Filing Fee
Make sure to include the correct filing fee with your Form I-90. If the correct filing fee is not paid, USCIS will not accept your application. Make sure to check the current I-90 instructions, before filing your I-90, to confirm that you are paying the correct filing fee. If you have any questions, email me at Michael@AshooriLaw.com.
There are 2 fees associated with replacing a lost green card:
- I-90 Filing Fee: $455
- Biometrics Services Fee: $85
Include the Correct Documents with Your Application
The documents that you must submit with your I-90 will depend on your particular case. In the case of a lost green card, you should include a photocopy of the front and back of your green card that was lost. If you do not have a photocopy of your lost green card, you may be eligible to submit a photocopy of another government-issued form of identification, such as a driver’s license or the identification page of your passport.
Attend Biometrics Appointment
After you file your I-90, you will receive a notice to attend a biometrics appointment. At this appointment, you will have your digital fingerprint taken. Make sure to attend the biometrics appointment, as this is a required step to get your new green card.
How Long Until I Get My New Green Card?
Once you file the Form I-90, it takes USCIS about 6 to 10 months to process your application and issue you a new green card.
What if I Must Travel Outside of the U.S. Before Getting My New Green Card?
A common problem is that many permanent residents file their I-90 and then must leave the U.S. They do not have time to wait 6 to 10 months to receive their new green card. If you are in this position, you should make an InfoPass appointment with a local USCIS office. At the appointment, you should bring your receipt notice for the I-90 (which is proof that you have filed the I-90).
While at the appointment, you should request an I-551 stamp in your passport. The I-551 stamp is typically valid for 1-year. This stamp is temporary proof of permanent resident status for purposes of re-entering the country without a valid green card.
2. Lost Green Card Outside of the United States
If you lost your green card while outside of the United States, the procedures on what to do are slightly different. Please see below.
File Form I-131A Application for Travel Document (Carrier Documentation)
Your green card is your proof of permanent resident status which allows you to enter the United States. Without a valid green card, a transportation carrier (such as an airline) will likely not permit you to board the plane. If they did permit you to enter the plane without a valid green card, they could incur fines.
So, if you lose you green card abroad, you will need to first apply for a travel document (carrier documentation). To do this you must file a Form I-131A in person at a U.S. consular office abroad. Before you appear at the U.S. consulate or embassy, you must submit the filing fee for the I-131A through the USCIS online payment system. The filing fee is currently $575.
Keep in mind that you can only apply for the carrier documentation in the following circumstances:
- You are a lawful permanent resident and you are returning from temporary travel abroad of less than one year, and your green card has been lost, stolen, or destroyed; or
- You are a lawful permanent resident and are returning from temporary travel abroad of less than two years, and your reentry permit has been lost, stolen, or destroyed.
If you have been outside of the United States for a year or longer without a valid reentry permit, make sure to contact a U.S. immigration lawyer as the steps listed above may not apply to you.
Once you receive the carrier documentation, you may use this to board a plane to reenter the United States.
File Form I-90 with USCIS
Upon returning to the United States, you should file a Form I-90 (Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card) as specified earlier in this guide.
3. Lost Green Card in the Mail
If USCIS sent you your green card in the mail and you never received it, it may have been returned to USCIS as undeliverable. In cases like this, when certain conditions are met, USCIS allows you to file another I-90 without paying a filing fee, to receive your green card. Please email me directly at Michael@AshooriLaw.com to determine if your case fits the necessary criteria.
If you’ve lost your green card, it can be a stressful situation. However, you should know that this is quite common and that there are procedures in place to help you get a new green card. The steps you must take are different depending on if you are within the United States or if you are abroad when your green card is lost. If you are in the U.S., you must file a Form I-90 with USCIS to get a new green card. If you are abroad, you must first obtain carrier documentation before seeking entry to the U.S. Upon entry to the U.S., you should then file a Form I-90 to obtain a new green card.
If you have any questions over any of the material discussed in this guide or if you need help replacing your lost green card, please feel free to email me directly at Michael@AshooriLaw.com. I’m a U.S. immigration lawyer and I would be happy to help you.