Replacing a lost green card is straightforward, but it takes time. You’ll need to fill out Form I-90, pay a filing fee, and attend a biometrics appointment. Replacing a green card can take more than a year, so you should get the process started as quickly as possible.
What To Do if You Lose Your U.S. Green Card
Losing your green card can be a nerve-wracking experience. This important document helps prove your lawful permanent resident status, which gives you the legal right to live and work in the U.S. But given the importance of a green card, there are well-established procedures and steps in place to help you replace it. If you find yourself in an unfortunate situation where you can’t find your green card, keep two things in mind.
First, it takes some time and effort to replace a lost or stolen green card, so you want to act as quickly as possible. Depending on the processing times of a particular U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) site, it can sometimes take up to a year to get a replacement green card.
Second, you should file a police report concerning the lost card. A lot of fraudulent activity occurs with green cards. For example, a dishonest individual could get a hold of an authentic permanent resident card and use it to break the law. If this happens, it can cause some major headaches for you. Filing a police report helps reduce this risk and can protect you from legal issues if someone misuses your green card.
How To Replace Your Lost Green Card
The process of replacing a lost green card depends on where you are when it’s lost. It’s easiest to replace a green card while in the United States, as it largely requires filling out Form I-90 and paying a fee. But if you’re outside the United States, you also need to take additional steps to get authorized to legally re-enter the United States.
Replacing a Lost Green Card From Within the U.S.
If you lose your green card while you’re in the United States, you need to complete Form I-90: Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card. The reason you’re asking for a new green card dictates what sort of information and supporting documentation you must provide. In most cases, you’ll need to provide a copy of another form of identification, like a driver’s license, that contains all the following general information:
- Your name
- Your photo
- Your date of birth
- Your signature
This is a key requirement as it helps confirm you’re not someone else trying to fraudulently obtain a green card.
Another requirement of Form I-90 is paying the filing fee of $455. Understand that this fee could change at any time, so you should double-check the Form I-90 filing fee by reviewing the USCIS online fee schedule. Besides the filing fee, you’ll also need to pay the biometric services fee of $85. You need to pay this biometrics fee to get your picture taken and provide your signature and fingerprints. You should expect your biometrics appointment to occur after you submit your I-90 application.
Submitting Form I-90 Online
You can submit Form I-90 in two ways. The first is online after you create a USCIS account. Filing through the USCIS website is ideal because it makes it easier to:
- Track the progress of your application
- Fix any mistakes before submission
- Avoid easy-to-make mistakes, such as not signing a form
- Submit payment immediately and securely
- Receive confirmation of receipt as soon as you submit your form
- Provide additional information if requested by the USCIS
- Send online messages to the USCIS to ask questions about your application
Submitting Form I-90 by Mail
If you can’t submit your I-90 online, you can mail it to a USCISe office. The address you use depends on how you send it.
If you send your application via the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), you’ll send it to:
P.O. Box 21262
Phoenix, AZ 85036-1262
If you send your application by FedEx, UPS, or DHL, then you’ll use the following address:
Attn: I-90 (Box 21262)
1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S
Phoenix, AZ 85034-4850
Can My Application Be Denied?
The majority of applicants who request a replacement green card have their application approved. But it is possible for USCIS to deny an I-90 application. This could happen if, for example, you put incorrect information on the form. USCIS may also ask for additional information or documents to process your I-90. If your application is denied, you might want to consider contacting an immigration attorney for legal advice on what to do next.
The USCIS also offers several tips on how to correctly complete and file immigration forms, which you can review on the USCIS Form Filing Tips page. After visiting the page, you’ll notice how much of this advice applies to those who complete their forms on paper and mail them in. This is all the more reason to try to submit your I-90 online if possible.
Replacing a Lost Green Card if You’re Traveling Outside the U.S.
If you lose your green card while you’re in another country, you need to file a report with the local police department. Next, you should contact the local U.S. embassy or consulate. They’ll explain what you need to do. This may involve filing Form I-131A: Application for Travel Document, which serves as your “boarding foil.”
A boarding foil is temporary proof that the airline or other transportation carrier can legally take you to the United States. This is necessary because U.S. law prohibits carriers from bringing people to the United States who don’t have a valid passport and a required visa (or other documentation saying they can re-enter the country). When completing Form I-131A, make sure you have enough funds to pay the filing fee of $575.
After you return to the United States, you’ll complete Form I-90 and go through the steps discussed above.
When Should You Replace Your Green Card?
Even if you still have possession of your green card, there are situations where you have to replace it. These situations include any of the following:
- You have an expired green card or it will expire within the next six months
- If you received your green card before you were 14 and you’re now 14 (unless your expiration date isn’t until you turn 16)
- You have an older version of an alien registration card (such as Form AR-103 or Form 151)
- Your biographical information (such as your name) has changed
- It’s damaged or destroyed
- Your commuter status has changed
- Your immigration status has changed
- There’s wrong information on your green card
In any of these situations apply, you’ll replace your green card by filing Form I-90 and following the above-listed steps.
Replacing a green card can be complicated, but help is available. If you’re eligible, our free web app will walk you through the green card application process and help you prepare and file your application with the U.S. government. If our app isn’t a good fit, we may be able to refer you to an experienced immigration attorney to help. Click "Get Started" to see how we can help make your American dream come true!