Green Card serves as proof of your permanent resident status. By the main rule, as stated in Section 264 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), lawful permanent residents must carry their alien registration receipt card at all times. For this reason, you have to make sure you have a binding document, so it can be treated as evidence of your status.
Whenever your Green Card (Permanent Resident Card) is lost or stolen or damaged you must replace it. Phrasing Replacing Green Card has a larger meaning than Renewal. We talk about replacing a lost, stolen, or expired Green Card, while Renewal refers to exchanging an expired card for a new one.
To request a new card, you should submit documentation with U.S. Citizenship Immigration and Services (USCIS) – a government agency that takes care of immigration-related services. In the following article, we will show you how to move forward with this application.
How to replace a Green Card?
You must replace your Green Card first by filing Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card. You can do it either online or by mail (post). When you decide to submit a motion online, you may be able to track the case, which includes seeing when your application is delivered, receiving online updates of your case, and even the possibility to contact the government directly.
Remember, you must replace your card also when you are a commuter and are now taking up actual residence in the United States, OR a permanent resident residing in the United States and now want to take up the commuter status; OR when your card contains incorrect information OR your biographic information has changed (e.g., you legally changed your name).
Your Form I-90 receipt notice will state that it provides evidence of your lawful permanent resident status for 12 months from the expiration date on your Form I-551, Permanent Resident Card, (also known as a Green Card). It will also confirm that you remain authorized to work and travel during this time. Once you present it with your expired Green Card, your Form I-551 can be used as evidence of your lawful permanent resident status.
- Within 1–2 weeks after USCIS receives your application, you should receive another notification letting you know the date and location of your biometrics appointment;
- Remember to always respond to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to any notice of action promptly. You can do it online or by mail;
- If USCIS approves your application, you will receive your new Green Card by mail.
My Green Card is lost, what do I do?
First, you need to know that there is a difference in procedures involved, depending on whenever you lost your card on U.S. territory or outside of the U.S. Therefore, we have divided the answer to how to replace your Green Card into two passages.
Losing a Green Card in the U.S.
If your Green Card is lost and it happened in the U.S., the process to replace your Green Card in this situation is quite simple. To do this, you also need to file Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card. You can file Form I-90 online or by mail.
Documentation required usually involves a photocopy of your original Green Card, a copy of another form of government-issued identification such as a driver’s license, or other evidence of your status and personal information.
Whether you have to travel abroad, and there is no way to postpone it, you have to call United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) by using 1-800-375-5283 (TTY 800-767-1833) and request an I-551 stamp on your travel document. This stamp serves as proof of your permanent resident status and is valid for one year.
When calling USCIS, you should be prepared to provide USCIS with specific information regarding your application, such as your name, date of birth, receipt number, and Alien Number. When your Green Card is lost, and you don’t remember the number, please see our article on where else to find an Alien Registration Number.
Losing a Green Card outside the United States
In the event, your Green Card was lost, stolen abroad, and you are returning to the United States after an absence of less than one year, you may submit an application for a Boarding Foil – formerly known as transportation letter – via form I-131 A. This document is valid for 30 days or less, for a single entry. This document authorizes a transportation line to carry you to the United States without any penalty and proves your permanent residence status for this time. To issue a Boarding Foil, the officer at U.S. Embassy or Consulate interviews you to confirm that you hold a Lawful Permanent Resident status in the United States. There is a filing fee of $575. For current info on the filing fee visit the USCIS website.
Always remember to notify the police department in the jurisdiction in which your card was stolen to obtain a police report. You need to attach this report when filing documentation.
Great to know:
If you happen to be outside the United States when your card has expired, but it had a 10-year validity period, you do not need a Boarding Foil. The airline may board you with the expired card, provided you meet all their other conditions for travel. For more information, visit the USCIS website, call automated USCIS service at 1-800 375 5283, or contact our law firm.
Conditional Resident with an expired card (with a two-year validity) may be boarded if also in possession of a Notice of Action (Form I-797). The Notice of Action extends the validity of the card for a specified length of time (typically for one year).
Older Green Cards
If your Green Card was issued between 1979 and August 1989, it doesn’t have an expiration date, so you do not have to renew or replace them unless you use the Global Entry program (in this case, you need to get a new Green Card).
Global Entry is a government agency program that allows quickened clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon their arrival in the United States. If you are a member of this program, you can use an automated process available at selected airports.
Some Green Cards are no longer valid
If you have one of the previous versions of the Green Card (for example, USCIS Form AR-3, Form AR-103, or Form I-151), you must remember to file a request for a new one, as you need it for proving your permanent residence status.
What are the fees for replacing lost or stolen Green Card?
The standard green card replacement filing fee is $455, plus $85 for the one with biometric services for a total of $540. Some applicants do not have to pay or must pay only the biometrics fee. For more details, please see our other articles related to Green Card questions.
How long does it take to replace a Green Card?
Replacement of your lost or stolen Green Card may take 6-10 months. However, processing times change regularly. Please visit the USCIS website for the latest wait-time estimate. The process to replace a lost card also depends on how well you plan the entire undertaking and apply for a replacement before your card expires. The procedure involves gathering documentation and preparing it well in advance.
For better organization, you can use the legal advice of a professional law firm, which will communicate with the government for you, prepare the necessary documentation for the application, help you pay filing fees, and file it in whichever way is more suitable for you.
We recommend seeking the help of an immigration law firm especially, if USCIS denies your green card replacement application.
Replace your Green Card for other reasons
If you need to replace your Green Card for other reasons than lost, stolen, or damaged, for example, if your Green Card Replacement is correlated to an expiration date, you may want to see our Renew your Green Card article.