What is a Green Card?

A Green Card is administered to foreign nationals who qualify to be United States lawful permanent residents. A Green Card is a photo identification card that proves the Green Card holder’s permanent resident status. A Green card is a prerequisite to become naturalized as a United States citizen.

What is the Process to Replace a Green Card?

To replace a Green Card from within the United States, the process is relatively simple and can be done online or through the mail. However, certain evidence is required to replace a Green Card that has been lost, stolen, or damaged.

Filing Form I-90

If a Green Card is lost, stolen, or damaged, the Green Card holder must file Form I-90 with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services in order to receive a replacement Green Card. Form I-90 can be filed online or on paper through the mail. In order to replace a Green Card online, the Green Card holder must create a USCIS online account, where the Green Card holder can submit information and evidence and pay filing fees electronically.

When filling out Form I-90, a Green Card holder must select Item 2.a. on the form to reflect that the reason for the replacement Green Card is because the original Green Card was lost, stolen, or damaged. The filing fee for Form I-90 is $455. Both the filing fee and the biometrics fee, discussed below, must be submitted at the time the Form I-90 is submitted.

Supporting Documents and Evidence

Usually, the only evidence needed to replace a Green Card is the current, soon-to-be expired Green Card. However, if the reason the Green Card holder seeks replacement is because the card was lost, stolen, or damaged, further documentation is required to prove the Green Card holder’s identity and eligibility for a replacement Green Card.

If the Green Card is merely damaged, but still intact, then the Green Card holder must include his or her current Green Card when submitting the Form I-90.

If the Green Card is stolen or destroyed, then the Green Card holder must include with his or her Form I-90 a copy of some other form of government-issued photo identification that contains the Green Card holder’s name, date of birth, photograph, and signature. Some examples include a driver’s license, passport, or military identification document.

Within 1-2 weeks after filing Form I-90, the USCIS will inform the Green Card holder whether a Biometrics Services Appointment is needed, or if additional supporting evidence and documentation is needed.

Biometrics Services Appointment

After filing Form I-90 and paying applicable fees, the Green Card holder will receive a confirmation letter showing that Form I-90 was received. A Green Card holder may also be required to attend a Biometrics Services Appointment with the USCIS. A notice of the Biometrics Services Appointment will be sent to the Green Card holder within 1-2 weeks after Form I-90 is received.

At the Biometrics Services Appointment, a Green Card holder may be subject to an interview or required to provide his or her fingerprints, photograph, and/or signature in order to verify the Green Card holder’s identity, obtain additional information, and conduct a background and security check. The fee for the Biometrics Services Appointment is $85.

Green Card is Lost, Stolen, or Destroyed When Outside the United States

If a Green Card is lost or stolen when travelling abroad, the process to replace the Green Card is a bit more complicated and requires a different process to receive a new Green Card.

Whether the Green Card is lost, or believed to be stolen, the Green Card holder should file a police report with the local authorities where the Green Card went missing and receive a copy of the police report. The Green Card holder should then contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the city or country where the Green Card holder is visiting to begin the process of getting travel documentation that will allow the Green Card holder to travel to the United States.

To travel back to the United States without a Green Card, the Green Card holder will have to file Form I-131A, Application for Travel Document, which will provide proof to travel carriers, such as airlines, that the Green Card holder may travel to the United States despite the missing Green Card.

When filing Form I-131A, the Green Card holder must include certain documentation, including the original passport and one copy of the passport’s biographic page and evidence of the Green Card holder’s lawful permanent resident or conditional resident status, if available. For example, the Green Card holder can present a copy of the Green Card, an immigrant visa, or the Customs and Border Patrol admission stamp in the passport. The Green Card holder must also submit a copy of his or her tickets, itinerary, or any other evidence indicating the last date of departure from the United States and intended return date. Finally, the Green Card holder must submit one color passport-style photograph taken within the previous 30 days and which conform to United States Department of State photograph requirements.

Form I-131A is typically filed with the U.S. Embassy or Consulate, however the $575 filing fee must be submitted beforehand. No Biometrics Services Appointment or fee is required. The Green Card holder should check with the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the city or country where he or she is visiting to understand the exact filing requirements for Form I-131A.

When Will the Replacement Green Card be Issued?

After the petition for replacement is submitted, it can take over 6 months to receive the replacement Green Card. The replacement Green Card will arrive through the mail.

If a Green Card holder needs immediate proof of his or her permanent resident status while Form I-90 is being processed, an appointment with USCIS can be scheduled to receive a Temporary I-551 Stamp in the Green Card holder’s passport. This stamp will evidence the Green Card holder’s permanent resident status and qualifies as a temporary Green Card for one year.

What if the Application for a Replacement Green Card is Denied?

When a petition for a replacement Green Card is denied, USCIS will send a letter explaining why the petition was denied. Denial may be due to a more serious issue, such as a pending deportation order. In less serious cases, a petition is denied because of a clerical error or missing documentation.

If the USCIS denies a petition for a replacement Green Card, the Green Card holder can submit Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion to the USCIS office that made the denial decision within 30 days of the decision. When submitting Form I-290B, the Green Card holder should submit new facts, documentation, or evidence that corrects, amends, or completes incorrect or missing information in the original Form I-90. Submitting new information will improve the Green Card holder’s chances that submitting Form I-290B will be successful in receiving a replacement Green Card.

How Much Does it Cost to Replace a Green Card?

The cost to file Form I-90 is $455. The Biometrics Services fee is $85. The cost to file Form I-131A is $575. The cost to file Form I-290B is $675.