Lost or Stolen Green Card: What to Do

US Citizenship and Immigration Services Building

The laws required of permanent residents regarding the possession of a Green Card might seem confusing. Additionally, if you lose your Green Card, the pressures of replacing it can leave you feeling overwhelmed. Don’t worry, with the right information, you can wade through the logistics with confidence.  

If you are a permanent resident, it’s important to note that you are required by law to have your Green Card on your person at all times. As such, the consequences of non-compliance can lead to a misdemeanor. Therefore, it is imperative that you replace your Green Card as soon as possible if it is lost or stolen.

What if I Lose My Green Card WITHIN the United States?

If your Green Card is lost or stolen, you will need to complete I-90 form, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card. You can submit this form in a couple of ways; you can either submit it online or by mail. If possible, you also need to include a copy of the missing Green Card (most offices recommend making one or more copies of your Green Card and keeping them somewhere safe). However, if you don’t have a copy, you can submit another government-issued identification document such as a driver’s license or passport. Unfortunately, there are costs involved in the process of replacing your Green Card. These fees are listed below:

  • The initial fee (as of September 2020) $455 
  • Additional biometrics fee of $85 

Thankfully, on October 2, 2020, the replacement fee will decrease to $405. However, the biometrics fee will remain the same. It is very important to check the current filing fee at USCIS.gov before filing. 

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Currently, the USCIS is taking about 6-14 months to process requests to replace lost or stolen Green Cards, which can be problematic if you need documentation of your status sooner rather than later. For example, if you plan to travel outside of the U.S., start a new job, or renew a driver’s license. In such situations, you can make an appointment at the closest USCIS field office and request an I-551 stamp for your passport. Remember that you will need to bring a receipt of your I-90 with you to show that you have already requested a replacement. 

Related Link: Is it Possible to Work While the Green Card Application is Pending

What if I Lose My Green Card OUTSIDE the United States?

Now, what happens if you lose your Green Card while outside of the United States? Unfortunately, the situation becomes more complicated in this scenario, mostly because you can only file an I-90 form from inside the United States. However, you still have options.

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Open Passport Book

The first step to take if you have lost your Green Card is to you is to contact local law enforcement to file a police report. Once you have done that, you will need to contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. From there, you will receive instructions on what to do next. They will most likely request that you file an I-131A form, also called an Application for Travel Document (Carrier Documentation). You must file the form in person at either an international USCIS field office or a U.S. consulate. 

Related Link: Immigration Interview Questions

In addition to this, you need to bring your passport, evidence that you are a permanent resident, a copy of the police report, a copy of your plane ticket or travel itinerary, and a passport-style photo. As mentioned before, you will need to have a way to pay for filing fees. Currently, filing fees are set at $575 but will increase to $1010 on October 2, 2020. 

The consulate or field office can then issue you a travel document, often known as a boarding foil, that will allow you entry into the U.S. Once you return to the U.S., you should immediately file form I-90.

What If My Green Card Gets Lost in the Mail?

USCIS will mail your Green Card to you, so they must have your correct mailing address. If you need to keep track of it, you can use the case status tracker. It will let you know once it has been mailed and give you a mail tracking number. 

While the U.S. Postal Service is usually reliable, some Green Cards have been lost from time to time. If that happens, the USCIS will replace your Green Card at no cost to you in the following instances:

  • if more than 30 days have passed since it was mailed 
  • it was returned to USCIS as undeliverable and 
  • you currently live at the address that you provided. 

 Post Office Drop Boxes in snow

First, it is a good idea to contact your local post office to see if they have any undelivered mail for you. If the above situation does not apply to you, you will be required to pay the filing fee again. Lastly, if your Green Card is lost in the mail, you will need to file an I-90 form to replace it. 

What If My Green Card Replacement/Renewal Request Is Denied?

Having your Green Card renewal application denied is a serious situation, and you need to address it promptly to avoid consequences such as deportation proceedings. If your request is denied, the USCIS will inform you in writing with their reason for denial. Some common reasons for denials are listed below: 

  • providing false information on the application 
  • having a pending deportation order 
  • committing a crime or
  • using the wrong form.  

It’s important to note that sometimes USCIS makes a mistake on their end. While you cannot appeal a denial decision, you can submit a motion to reopen or reconsider the decision

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A motion to reopen allows you to provide additional facts and/or evidence. In contrast, a motion to reconsider argues that USCIS incorrectly applied the law or that the decision was incorrect based on the evidence provided. All you need to do is submit an I-290B form or a Notice of Appeal or Motion. Like the other forms submitted, you will be required to pay an initial filing fee of $675. However, that fee is scheduled for an increase, to $700, on October 2. USCIS will often quickly correct an obvious mistake on their part and usually resolves cases within 180 days.

Related Link: Immigration FAQ

An experienced immigration attorney can help you replace a lost or stolen Green Card, making the replacement process hassle-free and avoiding filing mistakes that could lead to the denial of your request. Because of such cases’ complexity, it is especially advisable to consult an attorney if your Green Card was lost or stolen outside the U.S. or if your replacement request is denied. Contact Brudner Law today to find out how we can help you replace your Green Card or assist you with any other immigration need.