Guide to Renewing or Replacing a Lost Green Card
A green card (also referred to as a permanent resident card) is a document that is given to foreigners, offering them the right to work and live in the United States legally. Therefore, if you lose your green card, you might put your citizenship in danger if you do not resolve that problem quickly.
In the event that this happens, you should not give into panic. You’re not the first person to lose your green card – and you certainly won’t be the last. You will not get kicked out of the country if you lose it – but unless you renew or replace it, you might have trouble when it comes to traveling or any other activities.
If you have problems with a lost green card, this article should be able to guide you into solving that problem.
Can a Lost Green Card Be Replaced?
Yes, a lost green card can be replaced, as long as your previous green card had all the legal documentation handled. It may require a certain amount of paperwork – but if your documentation is in order, there should not be any problems. To replace the green card that has been stolen, you will have to fill in the I-90 form – which also goes under the name of “Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card.”
When filling out the application for the replacement of the lost green card, you need to be particularly attentive to the way you fill it out. If the agents notice any omissions or inconsistencies, the process might be delayed. If you are not exactly sure how to fill the form in, you might want to collaborate with an immigration attorney.
Last but not least, if your green card has expired during the time it was lost (or has less than 90 days until its expiration date), you cannot file the I-90 form. Instead, you will have to file the I-751 form, “Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence” – or the I-829 form, “Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status.” Both of these forms will request that it removes the conditions set on your residential status.
Who Is Eligible to Replace a Lost Green Card?
A lost green card is a document that is crucial in maintaining your permanent residence – which is why you need to solve your problem quickly. Not everyone may be eligible for a green card replacement – but there are certain instances when you must replace it.
You Must Replace Your Lost Green Card IF
You must replace your green card if you fall under the following categories:
- You received your green card 10 years ago, and it has expired or will expire within a time span of 6 months.
- Your green card was stolen, lost, or damaged.
- You received a green card that has a 10-year validity before turning 14, and it will not expire by the time your turn 16.
- Your card has incorrect data written on it due to the administrative error of USCI.
Bear in mind that these criteria makes you eligible for a green card replacement even if your card had been previously stolen.
You May Replace Your Lost Green Card IF
You may replace your lost permanent residence card if the following apply:
- Your biographic information such as your name went through legal change by means of marriage.
- Your green card does not feature an expiration date written on it.
- You have received commuter status, meaning that you may regularly commute for work in the US from Mexico or Canada.
Bear in mind that you will have to submit all of the documentation necessary in order to replace or renew a lost green card. Make sure that you fill the forms with all the documentation necessary.
How to Apply for a Replacement Green Card
There are two ways for you to apply for a green card – the first being online and the second one by mail. It will all depend on your possibilities. Some people prefer the quickness of the online application, as it generally takes less time to be received and processed. Others, however, are not comfortable with online applications and prefer the traditional version.
Before submitting your application, you will have to find out which option suits you best.
When you are applying online for a replacement (or renewal) of your lost green card, you should go through the following steps:
- Create Your USCIS account: This will grant you access to the forms you need.
- Complete the I-90 Form: The form is also known as the “Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card.” Bear in mind that this application will require as many responses as you can provide.
- Upload the Evidence: This evidence will depend based on the information that you offer in your online application. Make sure that you gather and scan it beforehand.
- Review the Application and Sign It: Make sure that there are no errors or inconsistencies in the text. You will have the option to provide your digital signature as well.
- Pay and Submit: Sending an application for a new green card will also cost you an extra fee. USCIS will send you to Pay.gov on their website, where you may submit your application. There are no fees associated with the submission of your application online – and you will only have to submit the standard filing fee of Form I-90.
Apply by Mail
In the event that you are not comfortable with online applications, you can also opt for mailing in your documentation. Bear in mind that depending on the postal office, its approval might take longer than with an online application.
- Print and Complete the I-90 Form: You may download the form from the USCIS website, once you have made an account. You may find directions on the form instructions so that you fill the application in correctly.
- Include the Filing Fee: Include the appropriate fee for processing your application. This may or may not include the biometric service fees along with the Form I-90 fee. Make sure to carefully read the current instructions found on the USCIS website. You may also pay using a personal check, money order, credit card, or cashier’s check.
- Submit Your Evidence: Just like with the online application, you will have to submit your application here as well. Make sure that copies of the supporting documentation are found in the package. Add the correct filing location on the package according to form instructions, and then mail it in.
How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Lost Green Card?
No matter if you are replacing your green card because you lost it or simply because it is expiring, the filing fee will be exactly the same in most cases. Just to be certain, you may use the fee calculator found on the USCIS website, where you will have to state your status and your reason for the application.
The I-90 form fee will cost $455, according to the USCIS website. However, you will have to pay for biometrics as well. This will cost you an extra $85, in the event that you lost your visa card. This will bring your total down to $540.
To make your payment, include the amount you got in the fee calculator into the filing package. You might want to refrain from adding cash directly into the package. You should opt for a money order instead – or even a check if the money order is not possible.
After You Apply for Your Replacement Green Card
Once you have filed your application, USCIS will proceed with the processing steps. When that happens, you will receive:
- An e-mail notifying you that USCIS has received your application. If you do not have an online account, USCIS will make it automatically for you.
- A notice for when your biometrics appointment is set. This notice should come within one or two weeks after your application has been confirmed.
- A request for the evidence should also appear, in the event that you did not file all the proper documentation. This notice will state a time period during which you can make the upload, which is why you need to keep an eye on the account.
- A written notice of the decision, regardless of what it is. It may be given both by online account and by mail.
At the end of these notifications and steps, if your green card if approved, you will receive the new one in the mail. This might also take a few more days, depending on the postal services.
What to Do If Your Green Card is Lost Outside of the U.S.
If you lose your green card while you are in the United States, you should not worry. You won’t get kicked out of the country, and as long as you request a new one, everything should be just fine.
The stressful part comes when your green card is lost outside of the U.S. – and you need to get back into the country. However, even if you have lost your green card, you will still be able to enter the country. Instead of using a green card, you’ll be using carrier documentation.
If your green card is lost or stolen, the first thing you should do is report the police. Once you have done that, the next step is to obtain carrier documentation that allows you to board carriers such as planes or trains to the U.S. To receive this carrier documentation, you will have to download the Form I-121A from USCIS, also referred to as “Application for Travel Documentation (Carrier Documentation)”. Bear in mind that this form will only be useful if you have been away from the country for more than a year.
Carefully fill in the form with the necessary information, according to the instructions, and file it at the nearest U.S. embassy of the country that you are currently in. Before long, you will receive your carrier documentation.
Bear in mind that this documentation will only be useful for getting you into the country. Once you are back in the United States, you need to file the Form I-90 and request a replacement for your green card. You may not be able to go through any international traveling until you receive your green card – unless USCIS approves and you have a good reason for it. The process might be slightly longer and more troublesome compared to the situation when you have a green card.
Form I-90 and How to Appeal
Sometimes, applications for replacement green cards may be denied – in which case, you will receive an explanation for the reason. You may not precisely appeal to any negative decision that was taken (i.e. request to review it). Still, you may submit a request to reopen or reconsider your case – but you will have to do it with the same office that made the decision.
When filing such a motion, you might want to get the help of an immigration attorney. They will be able to help you through the process and point out any flaws in the law – no matter if it was on USCIS’s side or on yours. If the decision was incorrect based on the documentation that you have previously filed in, an attorney will help you speed up the process so that you may get your green card in the end.
Bear in mind that the best decision is to work with an immigration attorney from the very beginning. This way, you will ensure that there are no delays and that no incorrect decision was taken.
A lost green card does not mean the end of the world – nor does it mean that you will be kicked out of the United States. Provided that you are eligible for a replacement green card, you should receive a new one fairly soon. You just have to file in the right documentation and respect the steps that have been imposed by USCIS.