Getting a green card is a great feeling and even worth celebrating. However, if a green card is lost or stolen, most permanent residents do not know what to do next. This article explains everything you should know if you ever need to replace a lost or stolen green card.
The exact procedure for replacing a lost or stolen green card varies depending on certain factors. For example, your location at the time you lost your green card will decide how to proceed with the replacement process.
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How To Replace Your Green Card If Lost Or Stolen In The United States
If your green card is lost or stolen in the United States, go to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services website, and then select Form I-90 from the available forms. Also known as Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card (Green Card), you can either file this form online or via mail.
Filing Form I-90 Online
You can apply for the replacement of green card online by filing the Form I-90 and submitting it online. The USCIS provides a step-by-step guide to help you create an account on their website, and then submit your application.
While you can also file for replacement green card offline via mail, the online option is more convenient. By creating an account with USCIS, you can easily track your case status online, upload additional documents as evidence if required, and communicate with USCIS securely and privately. Basically, to replace your permanent resident card online, you need to follow these simple steps:
Step #1 – Create An Account
Head over to the USCIS website, and create an account. If you need help with this process, follow their account creation guide.
Step #2 – Access Form I-90
On the USCIS website, access Form I-90, provide the required information, and then sign the form.
Step #3 – Submit The Form
Once you have verified that you have provided the correct information, including the required supporting documents, and paid the filing fee (if required), you may submit your form.
Form I-90 Supporting Documents
Some supporting documents needed by the USCIS for green card replacement may include one or all of the following:
- A copy of your green card, if available
- A government-issued ID bearing your name, photograph, place of birth and signature
Filing Fee For Lost Or Stolen Green Card
When filing to replace your green card, the standard filing fee is usually $540. However, to verify the amount, it is advisable to use the Fee Calculator tool available on the USCIS website. Verifying the filing fee before submitting your application to replace your green card is highly recommended because it helps avoid unnecessary delays and avoidable rejections. USCIS will reject applications that do not come with the correct filing fee.
On the Fee Calculator page, simply select Form I-90 from the drop-down menu, select your status on the next page, and then provide the reason for application, by selecting “Card was lost or stolen.” Click Calculate to see the most current fee for green card replacement.
Processing Time For A Replacement Green Card
The USCIS has a Processing Times tool that lets you check case processing times for different cases. To check the processing time for your application for a replacement green card, select a Form I-90 under the Form section, select the Field Office or Service Center, and then click on the Get Processing Time button.
As of January 2021, the average processing time to replace your green card replacement is between 7 to 18 months. As you wait for the new green card to arrive, you may need a temporary document that proves that your original green card is lost or stolen and that you have applied for a new one.
What To Do If Your Green Card Is Lost Or Stolen And You Need A Replacement Sooner
Given that it takes months and sometimes even more than a year to receive your new green card, it may be quite inconvenient not to have a temporary option. For example, if you want to travel out of the country, you will need to provide your green card to the immigration authorities.
To get a temporary replacement, locate your nearest USCIS field office by visiting the Field Offices page of the USCIS website. Once you’ve found the nearest field office, you may proceed to schedule an appointment. It is important to bear in mind that USCIS offices do not allow walk-ins; you must have an appointment prior to visiting.
Remember to carry with you relevant documents such as a government-issued identity card. During the appointment, you may explain to the USCIS officer the reason for your visit. You will then be issued with an Alien Documentation, Identification & Telecommunications (ADIT) stamp, also known as an I-551 stamp, which is usually valid for one year. The Form I-551 stamp, placed on your passport, should serve as a temporary green card.
What Next After Applying To Replace Your Green Card?
As you wait for your new green card to arrive, you can track its status online via the USCIS account you created earlier when filing Form I-90. Upon receiving your application, you will be notified by the USCIS, followed by a biometrics appointment. If there is a need for additional information or documentation, you will also be notified.
Changing Your Address While A Green Card Application Is Pending
If the application is processed and approved, the USCIS will send you the new green card via mail. If for some reason you decided to change your address prior to receiving the new green card, you must notify the USCIS immediately. This can be done through the USCIS online account you created, or by filing Form AR-11, also known as Alien’s Change of Address Card.
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How To Replace Your Green Card If Lost Or Stolen Outside The United States
The process of replacing a lost or stolen green card outside the United States is different from being in the country. The first thing you need to do is to notify the local police and obtain proof of your notification, most likely a police report.
Next, contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate for additional steps on replacing your lost or stolen green card. If you are not sure where or how to find your nearest U.S. Embassy, the U.S. government has an online embassy locator tool that you can use to search based on the country you are in.
To regain entry into the United States, you may have to file Form I-131A, also known as Application for Travel Document (Carrier Documentation). This form can be used by both lawful permanent residents or those with conditional status if they lost their green cards while outside the country.
Where To File Form I-131A
Form I-131A must be filed in person at a U.S. Embassy, Consulate, or USCIS international field office. However, prior to appearing in person, the filing fee must be paid online.
Form I-131A Filing Fee
As of January 2021, the filing fee for Form I-131A is $575 and must be submitted through USCIS’s online payment system. Make sure you verify the filing fee using the Fee Calculator tool discussed earlier in this article, for reference purposes. This fee can be processed from anywhere in the world, as long as you provide the correct name, date of birth, and A-Number. Also, there is no need for a biometric services fee when filing Form I-131A.
During your in-person visit, make sure you have a copy of the proof of payment. This may be in form of a copy of the payment confirmation page, or an email sent to you upon processing the payment.
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Documents Needed Prior To Replacing Your Green Card Outside The United States
Before replacing your green card outside the United States, you must provide supporting documents at the USCIS field office, embassy, or consulate where you are scheduled to appear after paying the filing fee online. Here are some of the most common documents that you may be required to provide as evidence:
- Your original passport
- A copy of your passport’s biographic page (this is the page that shows your photograph and personal details)
- Proof that you are a lawful permanent resident of the United States, or proof of your advance parole, or a copy of your Employment Authorization Document with travel authorization
- Proof of your most recent departure from the United States and your expected date of the return (this may be in form of the itinerary, travel tickets, etc.)
- Your most recent passport-style photograph, taken within 30 days of filing the application
What To Do If Your Application To Replace A Green Card Is Denied
In the unlikely event that your application for a green card replacement is denied, you may have a rough time trying to return to the United States. If you’re in the United States, you can submit a motion requesting the USCIS to reconsider their decision. Typically, when such an application has been rejected, the USCIS provides a reason for the decision. This mostly happens if the applicant has a pending deportation order or knowingly lied in their application.
To appeal the decision, you must submit Form I-290B, also known as Notice of the Appeal or Motion, within 30 days to the office that rejected your application. You may also pay a filing fee of $675; however, you may request a waiver if you are facing financial difficulty.
Another alternative, whether you are in or outside the United States, is to seek legal advice from an experienced immigration attorney. A good attorney may be able to review your case and provide the best legal advice based on your situation.