Need Help Replacing a Lost Green Card? Best Ways to a Replacement

Today, we have an ever increasing list of things to keep on hand: cell phone, keys, wallet, etc. And, while we do our best, we sometimes misplace important things. So, what happens if you lose your Green Card? Yes, lose has two meanings here. You can lose it in the traditional sense like a lost physical copy and you can have your card revoked. If your Green Card is lost in a physical sense? Well, try not to be too down on yourself since things are often and easily misplaced in our busy and full lives.

Also, there is a process to obtain a replacement card. If however, your Green Card is lost due to changed eligibility status, then the path to replacement is a bit less guaranteed. Fortunately, we are going to discuss both options below.

A Lost Green Card — Physical Copy

If you are reading this, you are probably in full panic mode because you may have just lost your Green Card. Or worse yet, your Green Card has been stolen. So, what happens if you lose your Green Card or someone steals it? Is it possible to replace a lost Green Card? How do you replace your lost card? What is the replacement process like?

Thankfully, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) department offers a clear and streamlined process to help you get a replacement Green Card. And to further help you, we will provide clear instructions on how to best replace your lost, or possibly stolen Green Card.


Before we proceed, it is important to note that other than the Green Card being lost or someone stealing it, USCIS denotes ten (10) additional categories in which you may need to replace your Green Card. For example, your card may destroyed or damaged due to fire, washing, or accidental, partial shredding or tearing. If any of this happens, your Green Card is no longer valid proof your legal residency and must be replaced. Other categories in which you need to replace your Green Card include:

  1. the card has an expiration date within 6 months;
  2. some age restrictions for teenagers;
  3. changing from commuter to permanent resident or vice versa;
  4. having your status upgraded to permanent resident;
  5. having an older and now invalid type of registration card;
  6. having incorrect biographic or other information because it changed or USCIS error. You will also need to file for a replacement Green Card if you never received your original copy

Form I-90

Now, lets discuss the process to replace your Green Card. The first thing you will need to do is file Form I-90. You can file this form online or by paper copy via mail. The form is a relatively simple 8-pager that asks for basic biographic information and reasons for filing. Only the first 5 pages are necessary, while the last three pages are for additional information, like interpreter information. As with every USCIS form, ensure that you are using the proper edition. As of this writing, both the 6/30/15 and 12/29/14 editions are accepted. Of course, include all requested documentation to help forego any delays.

Filing form I-90 costs anywhere from $85-$450. The wide gap is because some teenagers only have to pay the biometric services fee, while others have to pay the total amount. This fee includes the $365 filing fee and an $85 biometric fee. Of great importance, you might not have to pay a fee. If USCIS made a mistake and you received a card with incorrect information or never received your card, you will be exempt from the fee. Of course, you have to provide evidence that the error was USCIS’s and not yours. Also important to know, you are not allowed to file online if you are applying for a fee waiver. If filing by mail, your payment options are limited to only check or money order. More conveniently, filing online offers payment flexibility with options to pay by either credit or debit card, or a United States bank account.

If by slight chance you find your card after you file from I-90, you are allowed to withdraw the application. However, you will not be refunded the application fee. So, make sure you really need a replacement card before wasting $450.

Lost Green Card While Traveling

Because permanent residents are permitted to travel outside of the United States, you may lose your card or have it stolen abroad. If you are traveling and lose your Green Card, you must report to the nearest United States Consulate before filing your form I-90. The consulate will help advise you on any special protocols you have to take since you will be filing from outside of the country. If approved, you will receive your new Green Card via mail.

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Checking Status Online

USCIS recommends getting an online account manager (USCIS online account) to check the status of your I-90 form. It is such a highly recommended step that, if you file by mail, USCIS will create an online account for you. Also, even if you have an online account, you will still receive updates by mail.

What Happens if Your Application is Denied?

Sometimes, your application for a replacement Green Card is denied. If this happens, it is extremely advisable that you consult an immigration attorney to help you apply for a motion to reconsider or a motion reopen your case. An attorney would be valuable because all motions must state a case for an incorrect application of immigration law or policy. Since asking for a motion is essentially asking the office to reassess or amend its finding, either of these motions must be filed with the same office that denied your initial form I-90.

Stay Hopeful

As you see there are options whether you lose your Green Card while traveling, accidentally wash or shred it, never received it, or received one with incorrect information. You even have options if your initial request for a new card is denied. So, breathe a little easier knowing that your permanent, conditional, or commuter resident status has not been forfeited simply because you need a replacement Green Card.

A Lost Green Card — Changed Eligibility

It is true — you can permanently lose your Green Card. Being a Green Card holder comes with responsibilities to act with sound moral character and uphold the laws of the United States. If you are found to have broken the law or have committed any deportable offenses, you could not only lose your Green Card, but also be deported as well.

Deportable offenses can be categorized in six ways

    1. If you entered the country illegally. This could mean a variety of different things, including:
      1. You arrived via smuggling.
      2. You overstayed your initial visa.
      3. If your nonimmigrant visa was revoked.
      4. You arrived via marriage fraud.
    2. If you are convicted of committing a criminal offense, including, but not limited to:
      1. Crimes committed within 5 (10 years in some instances) after your admission to the United States.
      2. Your conviction carries a sentence of one year or more.
      3. You have two or more convictions on two different occasions.
      4. You have been convicted of an aggravated felony at any point after your admission to the United States.
      5. You have been become a drug abuser or addict.
      6. You have conspired to commit espionage.
    3. If you failed to register or you falsified documents, inclusive of:
      1. You failed to file change of address documents.
      2. You falsely claimed United States citizenship.
      3. You committed any type of document fraud.
    4. If you have engaged in any illegal security related activities. For example:
      1. You have endangered national security or public safety.
      2. You have tried to overstep or have ignored United States import and export laws.
      3. You have opposed or tried to overthrow the United States government.
      4. Your have become a national security risk.
    5. If you have become financially dependent on the United States government for public assistance.
    6. If you have voted unlawfully.
      1. While your status as a Green Card holder may be lawful and come with many rights, voting in federal, state, or local elections remains off limits. If you are found to have voted without a legally justifiable reason, you could be deported.

The above list is not exhaustive, so please consult an immigration attorney and view a list of all deportable actions. This list is not to frighten you, instead, it serves as a reminder to act morally sound at all times. It is a gentle reminder that you should uphold the standards that accompany your Green Card’s privileges. Also, remember that each deportation or revocation is reviewed on an individual basis. So, as stated above with a lost physical copy, remember your options.

We hope this guide helps ease your mind in case of a lost, stolen, or damaged Green Card. Whether you lose the physical card or are in danger of revocation or deportation, make sure you follow the action steps listed above and keep pressing forward because sometimes the solutions are simpler than you would believe.

If you did not find this article in stress and are reading to to simply gain preventative knowledge? Good for you! You will be prepared if you or someone you know has or is in danger of losing their Green Card.

Complete your immigration paperwork using our online software. We make it easy!

Complete your immigration paperwork using our online software. We make it easy!


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