lost green card

As an immigrant in the United States, the Green Card is one of the most important documents you possess since it is proof of your status to live and work legally in the country as well as a necessary document for getting loans of credit, re-entering the country, renewing a driver’s license and other scenarios. The road to obtaining a U.S. Green Card is often long and arduous so once you actually receive it, it’s important to keep it safe. In the event that you need to replace your lost green card, it was stolen or is going to expire within the next six months, we’ve outlined the necessary steps below.

When To Replace Your Green Card 

As a Lawful Permanent Resident, you are required to replace your Green Card in the following situations:

  • Green Card will expire in the next six month or is already expired
  • Green Card was lost, stoled, destroyed or mutilated
  • Green Card was received prior to age 14, you have now reached the age of 14 and it is going to expire after you turn 16 years old
  • You were a commuter and will now be living in the U.S.
  • You were a permanent resident living in the U.S. and will now be a commuter (meaning you live in Mexico or Canada and travel to the U.S. for work)
  • You were automatically granted permanent resident status (including special agricultural worker applicants under immigration reforms during 1986)
  • You were given an older version of the alien registration card; now outdated (Forms AR-3, AR-103, or I-151)
  • There is incorrect information on your card or you legally changed your name/biographic info
  • You have a Green Card without an expiration date – typically those issued between 1979-1989
  • Never received previous card issue to you (if this is your situation you may be exempt from paying the filing fee; see FAQs section)

As a Conditional Permanent Resident, you are required to replace your green card in the following situations:

  • Green Card was lost, stoled, destroyed or mutilated
  • There is incorrect information on your card or you legally changed your name/biographic info
  • Never received previous card issue to you (if this is your situation you may be exempt from paying the filing fee; see FAQs section)

If any of the above situations are applicable to you as a conditional permanent resident or lawful permanent resident then you should file Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card online through myaccount.uscis.gov or by mailing your I-90 to the address below:

U.S. Postal Service (USPS):

USCIS
P.O. Box 21262
Phoenix, AZ 85036

FedEx, UPS, and DHL deliveries:

USCIS
Attention: I-90
1820 E. Skyharbor, Circle S, Floor 1
Suite 100
Phoenix, AZ 85034

File I-90 Online to Replace or Renew Green Card

It’s typically better to file online through your USCIS online account because you can also pay your filing fee, check the status of your case and receive notifications of updates, respond to requests for evidence and much more. Your attorney or representative can also handle this for you through the online portal on your behalf. After you complete the form I-90 and sign it, you will need to submit it along with any required supporting documents and the filing fee. It is a good idea to submit Form G-1145, E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance, at the same time as filing Form I-90. What Form G-1145 does is requests that USCIS send you a email or text notification when they have received your application. The form is very simple to fill out and asks for the applicant/petitioner’s full name, email address and mobile phone number for texting.

E-Notifications do not include any personal information, including your name, because email and text message are not secure ways for us to transmit this information.  The notification will list your receipt number and tell you how to obtain case status information.

When your application is approved, your new green card will be mailed to you. Note that you can only fill out the I-90 while in the United States. If you are overseas you need to wait until you return to the United States before requesting a replacement.

If you are a conditional resident trying to remove conditions on your green card you need to file either Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence (for green card obtained through marriage) or Form I-829, Petition by Investor to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status (green card obtained through financial investment in U.S. business).

Replacement Green Card Filing Fee

There are a few cases in which the Green Card replacement fee can be waived but normally the cost is $455 plus $85 for the biometric service fee. If you are filing Form I-90 by mail then you can pay this fee with a check (personal or cashier’s), money order, or credit card (use Form G-1450).

You do not need to pay the filing fee if:

  • You never received your Green Card and it was mailed to you more than 30 days ago
  • Your Green Card was returned to USCIS as undeliverable
  • You never received your Green Card because moved from the address you initially provided
  • Your Green Card has erroneous information on it as a result of a DHS error (example- name spelled incorrectly)

Below is a convenient chart provided by USCIS that indicates which filing fees you are responsible for based on the reason.

Frequently Asked Questions

What do I do if I lost my Green Card?

If you lost your Green Card and are a conditional permanent resident or lawful permanent resident in the United States then you should file Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card online or by mail. In the event that you need to travel outside of the United States before you obtain your replacement card, then you should call your local USCIS office and make an appointment to request an I-551 stamp in your passport. This stamp will serve as temp proof of your permanent residence in the U.S. and is valid for 1 year. If you are outside of the United States and lost your Green Card (as a lawful permanent resident) then you need to obtain a travel document otherwise known as carrier documentation by filing Form I-131A, Application for Travel Document and taking it to a local U.S. embassy or consulate near you. This travel document will allow you board an airplane or other transportation.

Should I tell the police if my Green Card was stolen or lost?

If your Green Card was stolen or lost it may be wise to file a report since it can be used as a record when filing Form I-90 and if there are attempts made by someone else to use your identify with the Green Card.

How long does it take to replace a lost Green Card?

While the exact timeframe is uncertain due to USCIS backlogs, it can take 10-12 months or longer to replace a lost green card. You can check case processing times by your specific field office or service center by clicking here. If there are errors on your I-90 it can take even longer. For that reason, it is best to have legal documents prepared by an immigration professional.

How much does it cost to replace a lost Green Card?

In some cases, the Green Card replacement fee can be waived (see section above) but typically the cost is $455 plus $85 for the biometric service fee.

Can I apply for citizenship if I lost my Green Card?

The good news is you can apply for citizenship even if you green card is stolen/lost. Of course, you should file for a replacement with Form I-90 but you do not need to have received the replacement card in order to file for citizenship. Approximately 2 weeks after filing for the replacement, you will get Form I-797C Notice of Action which is a receipt letter. After receiving that, you can file your Application for Naturalization (Form N-400). We should clarify that a conditional Green Card is a different situation. If you were granted a Conditional Green Card due to a marriage then it will only be valid for two years. Ninety days before your Conditional Green Card expires you should file Form I-751, with your spouse.

Can I travel without my Green Card?

You are permitted by USCIS to travel while you are awaiting your Green Card but you should obtain a temporary travel document also called advanced parole (must be valid for the entire time you will be traveling), by filing out Form I-131.

It is not wise to leave the United States before obtaining the advance parole document because it will be considered ‘abandoned’ by USCIS.

If you are seeking immigrant status (a Green Card) and depart the United States without the appropriate documentation (i.e. advance parole) you may be inadmissible to the United States upon return, or even if admitted, you may be found to have abandoned your application.

What do I need to bring with me to the USCIS I-551 stamp appointment?

If you have not received your replacement Green Card yet and need to travel outside of the United States or need urgent temporary proof of status, then you need to contact your local USCIS office and make an appointment to request an I-551 stamp, also known as a Alien Documentation Identification and Telecommunication (ADIT) stamp.

For your appointment to receive the I-551 stamp you need to bring the following:

  • Valid/unexpired passport
  • InfoPass appointment notice (if you have one)
  • Form I-797 Notice Of Action (I-90 receipt letter)
  • Proof supporting your need for the I-551 stamp (airline tickets, job offer, etc.)

How long does it take to get the I-551 stamp?

While the time to receive the stamp may vary based on urgency and the case, many people can get the stamp in 2-4 weeks. If possible, it is advised to delay your trip until you receive it than to travel oversees with a Green Card that is expired.

Does my employer need to known if I lost my Green Card?

If your current employer does not ask then you do not need to tell them but if they request proof of employment authorization again then you will need to disclose what happened and hopefully by that point you will have already filed for a replacement card and they will be understanding.

How We Can Help

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Your Green Card is essential to proving your status in the U.S. so if you lost it or it was stolen it's important to take action immediately. Our team of experts can help you gather the necessary evidence and documents so you can get your replacement card as soon as possible.