Is your Green Card lost or stolen?

When Your Green Card is Lost or Stolen

The green card (officially known as a permanent resident card) is proof of your right to live and work in the United States. So if your green card is ever lost or stolen, the experience can be extremely nerve-racking

Don’t panic. You are not the first person to lose your green card. Losing your card does not mean you’ve lost your permanent resident status. But not having a green card can be a major problem when traveling, applying for a job, or other daily activities.

Here is what to do when your green card is lost or stolen:

If Your Green Card is Lost in the Mail:

Perhaps you never received your green card from USCIS. If your green card has been lost in the mail, you will need to apply for a replacement card using Form I-90. Depending on the circumstances, USCIS may replace it for free.

If you’ve been following your case online, you can check the status and see when USCIS mailed the card by using the USCIS case status feature. Wait at least 30 days from the date that USCIS mailed the green card. The waiting period allows sufficient time for the card to be mailed and returned to USCIS if undeliverable. Check your initial application to ensure that you provided the correct mailing address. When your green card is lost in the mail, USCIS will replace it at no cost if your situation meets all of the following criteria:

  • USCIS mailed the card over 30 days ago;
  • It was returned to USCIS as undeliverable; and
  • You did not move from the address you provided USCIS.

Confirm these facts before filing Form I-90. If your situation does not meet these criteria, you will need to pay the full filing fee of $540 to replace the green card.

If Your Green Card is Lost or Stolen inside the U.S.:

If you are inside the United States when your green card is lost or stolen, the process to replace it is simple. You will need to file Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card, as soon as possible. It may take more than six months to get your new card. This can be problematic if you need to start a new job or travel abroad.

If you need to travel abroad before you receive the replacement green card, you can make an appointment with your local USCIS office by calling 1-800-375-5283. At the appointment, request an I-551 stamp in your passport (similar to the sample image on the right). The stamp is temporary proof of your permanent residence. Generally, the temporary stamp will be valid for one year. Don’t have a passport? Try contacting the local consulate here in the United States to request a passport. For example, a Mexican national would contact the Mexican consulate in the U.S. to request a passport.

You may use the I-551 stamp for other purposes as well. An employee must show documentation to his/her employer to show their identity and authorization to work.

The I-551 stamp is a valid proof of permanent residence for the purposes of employment. A foreign passport that contains a temporary I-551 stamp or temporary I-551 printed notation on a machine-readable immigrant visa (MRIV) is an acceptable “List A” document. Most states also require proof of permanent residence to obtain or renew a driver’s license. Although each state has its own requirements, most will accept the I-551 stamp as proof.

Note: Take your Form I-797C, Notice of Action, to the InfoPass appointment for your temporary stamp. The Notice of Action is a receipt letter that shows you properly filed Form I-90 to replace your card. You will receive Form I-797C, Notice of Action approximately 2 to 3 weeks after filing Form I-90.

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