Being an immigrant is difficult, but if you’ve been awarded your green card, you can count on a measure of stability.
But what happens if your green card is lost or stolen?
Official name: Permanent Resident Card
Your green card – officially called the Permanent Resident Card – is your proof that you can live and work in the United States. Losing it does not mean you have lost your status, but it does make some things difficult.
To replace your lost or stolen green card, fill out Form I-90, the Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card. It can take more than six months to process.
If you need to travel abroad before you receive your replaced green card, go to the local U.S. Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS) office and ask for an I-551 stamp on your passport that gives proof of your permanent residence valid for one year.
The I-551 stamp can also be used to show your identity and authorization to work if you get a new job.
If your green card was lost in the mail or you never received it, USCIS will replace it if:
- It was mailed more than 30 days ago
- It was returned to USCIS as undeliverable
- You did not move from the address you provided to USCIS
If you do not meet these criteria, you need to refile Form I-90 and pay the $540 filing fee again.
Other times you need to replace your green card
Losing your green card isn’t the only time you need to contact USCIS to replace the document. You also need to replace your green card if:
- Your card is 10 years old and has expired or will expire in the next six months
- You were issued a card valid for 10 years before you turned 14 that won’t expire before you turn 16
- Your card contains an error like the wrong name or date of birth, and the error was caused by the USCIS
- Your name has changed
- You now work in the United States but live in Canada or Mexico and have commuter status
If you have any problems with your green card, it is best to get the advice of a qualified, experienced immigration attorney who can give you guidance on the best way to avoid any trouble with USCIS.