If you’re a green card holder, you likely already understand the importance of keeping up with that card. Unfortunately, accidents happen and sometimes important items are lost or stolen. If you have a damaged, lost or stolen green card, it is critical that you get a replacement as soon as possible. In order to get your green card replacement, you’ll need to fill out and file Form I-90 with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.
At Ybarra Maldonado Law Group, our Phoenix immigration lawyers can help you through every step of the process to get a replacement green card. We understand that many immigration forms and processes are very complicated, which is why we aim to help those who might be unsure of what to do next. To schedule a consultation with us about your immigration case, please call our office today at 602-910-4040.
Who Should Replace Their Green Card?
For some people, replacing their permanent resident card is simply part of having permanent resident status. While conditional green cards are only good for two years and then must be upgraded, permanent resident cards expire after 10 years. Generally, if your green card is set to expire within the next six months, you should plan to replace your green card before the expiration date arrives. However, you must also replace your green card under any of the following circumstances, according to USCIS.
- Your permanent resident card was lost, damaged, or stolen.
- You obtained your green card before you turned 14, and you have now reached your 14th birthday.
- Up until this point, you have been commuting to the United States, but now you intend to reside here permanently.
- Your status was automatically changed to permanent resident status.
- Your Alien Registration Card is no longer valid, and therefore you must replace it with a new green card.
- The green card has incorrect information on it.
- You have changed information about yourself since you received the card, such as your name.
- You never received a permanent resident card from USCIS.
When Should I Replace My Green Card?
In most cases, you will only need to replace your green card once every 10 years. If the green card is set to expire within the next 6 months, this is when you should renew or replace the card. If your card is only valid for 2 years, this means you are a conditional resident. A conditional green card expires after 2 years, meaning you’ll have to adjust it to a full permanent resident card. You must file a petition to remove the conditions on your green card within 90 days of its expiration date.
Once the petition is approved, you will receive a new lawful permanent resident card from USCIS. This new card will expire after 10 years. If you are unsure of your card’s expiration date, we recommend looking on the front of the card. If you do not see an expiration date, then you likely have a very old card. In this case, we strongly recommend that you go ahead and renew your expired green card as soon as possible.
What Should I Do if My Green Card Is Lost or Stolen?
As soon as you realize that your green card has been lost or stolen, we recommend that you contact USCIS as soon as possible. You should be able to call their office at 1-800-375-5283, or visit their web page dedicated to getting a replacement permanent resident card. The first thing to remember is to stay calm. Losing a green card isn’t the end of the world, but it’s still important to replace it as soon as possible. In the following sections, we’ll outline the steps to take if you’ve lost, damaged, or had your green card stolen.
What Happens if My Green Card Is Lost or Stolen?
Stay calm and don’t panic. Although we understand that this experience can feel overwhelming, the process of replacing a lost or stolen green card isn’t as daunting as you might think. You also don’t lose your lawful permanent resident status just because you’ve lost your card. Lawful permanent residents usually only run into trouble when they’re traveling or applying for a job while their green card is lost.
How to Replace a Green Card
Depending on whether you are inside or outside the United States when your green card is lost or stolen, you’ll need to take certain steps to replace it. Generally, the process of replacing a green card from within the country is simpler than replacing it from outside the country.
How to Replace a Green Card from Inside the United States
If you’re inside the United States when you lose your green card, the first step is to file Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card as soon as possible. It could take several months to get your replacement green card, so start the process as soon as you can. If you need temporary proof of permanent residence in order to start a job or travel abroad, you’ll need to make an appointment with USCIS. Call their office at 1-800-375-5283 to schedule this appointment.
At the appointment, inform them that you need an I-551 stamp in your passport. This stamp will serve as your temporary residence status while you wait for your replacement green card. These stamps are usually only valid for one year, so don’t delay in replacing your green card. If you don’t have a passport, you’ll need to contact the appropriate consulate in order to obtain one.
How to Replace a Green Card from Outside the United States
If you’re outside the United States when you lose your green card, the process tends to be a little more complicated. First, we recommend contacting the police department in the area in which your green card was lost or stolen. You should be able to get a police report from this. You’ll also need to secure a travel document in order to get transportation. To obtain a travel document, find the nearest U.S. consulate or embassy. Prepare and file Form I-131A, which is an Application for Travel Document (Carrier Documentation).
Once you return to the United States, you can then file Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card with USCIS. We recommend working with an experienced immigration attorney for your case, as it is very easy to make costly mistakes while traveling abroad without a green card.
What if I Never Received My Green Card?
If you were supposed to receive your green card from USCIS, but you never did, you will need to file Form I-90 and apply for a replacement. Under very specific circumstances, USCIS may even replace your green card for free. Before you determine that your green card has been lost in the mail, we recommend checking your case status online. This will allow you to see when exactly USCIS mailed your green card.
Wait at least 30 days from the date that USCIS mailed the green card. This will give plenty of time for the green card to either arrive or go back to USCIS if it could not be delivered. You should also check your application to ensure that you listed the correct mailing address. If you have determined that your green card was lost in the mail, USCIS will replace it at no cost to you, but only if your case meets the following criteria.
- The green card was mailed by USCIS more than 30 days ago.
- It was undeliverable, and thus returned to USCIS.
- You did not move addresses or provide the wrong address to USCIS.
If you submit Form I-90 without meeting the above criteria, you will still have to pay the $540 filing fee.
How Long Does It Take to Replace a Green Card?
The processing time for replacing a lost or stolen green card is approximately 6 to 10 months. Keep in mind that this time may fluctuate depending on your specific circumstances, as well as outside factors that affect USCIS processing times. You can also look at the USCIS website to see the latest processing time changes.
What if I Need a New Green Card Sooner?
Although the process can be slow, there are ways to obtain temporary proof of your permanent residence status. Schedule an appointment at the nearest USCIS field office. You’ll need to get an Alien Documentation, Identification & Telecommunications (ADIT) stamp on your passport. This is also called an I-551 stamp. It can essentially be used as a temporary green card for up to one year.
How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Green Card?
The standard replacement fee for a green card is $455, plus an additional $85 for biometrics. This totals to $540. In some cases USCIS may waive the replacement fee, meaning you will pay only the biometrics fee. To pay these fees, you can either make your payment online at Pay.gov, or you can use checks, money orders, or credit cards. Cash is currently not accepted.
We provide timeframes for green cards here: How long after biometrics to get green card.
What to Do if Your Green Card Replacement Request Is Denied
If your replacement request is denied by USCIS, they will mail you a letter that explains their reasons for the denial. You have options in this situation. First, you could file a motion asking USCIS to reconsider their decision. We recommend working with a skilled attorney for this part. If you and your attorney can show that USCIS made their decision based on information that was incorrect or incomplete, you’re more likely to have a positive outcome.
If you want to request that USCIS reconsider their decision, we recommend taking the following steps.
- Fill out and submit Form I-290B, Notice of the Appeal or Motion, within 30 days of the decision. Make sure you submit this form to the same office that denied your replacement request.
- Pay the $675 filing fee. If you cannot afford to pay this amount, request a fee waiver. To qualify for the fee waiver, you’ll need to prove financial hardship.
Contact a Phoenix Immigration Lawyer Today
At Ybarra Maldonado Law Group, we understand how frustrating it can be to handle immigration forms and processes on your own. If you’ve lost your green card or damaged it, don’t worry. Getting a green card replaced is often easier than many people think. The Phoenix immigration lawyers at our firm have helped countless immigrants and their family members obtain green cards, replace green cards, and even upgrade their conditional green cards. If you need help with your stolen or lost green card, we’re here for you. To schedule an appointment with us, please call our office at 602-910-4040 today.