What If Your Green Card Is Lost or Stolen?

Updated on 10/21/2023

The day that you discover that you lost your permanent resident card, or had it stolen from you, can be a stressful one. People with lawful permanent resident (LPR) status frequently use this document as their form of photo identification.

If you are a victim of green card theft, or if you lost your permanent resident card by accident, there is an easy way to solve your problem. You can acquire a new green card by filing an I-90 replacement application to USCIS so that you prove your right to live and work in the United States.

1. Times that you may need to show your green card

Lawful permanent residents may need to present their green card on many occasions while living in the United States. A green card can be used for the following purposes and more:

  • Valid photo identification for financial transactions
  • Supporting documents at the Department of Motor Vehicles
  • Evidence of authorization to work in the United States
  • Entry document when re-entering the United States
  • Applying for U.S. citizenship

Therefore, when a lawful permanent resident card is lost or stolen, green card holders may feel at a loss as to how to prove their identity and immigration status.

2. What to do if your green card is lost or stolen?

The USCIS makes it fairly easy to replace a lost or stolen green card. It can be even more streamlined when green card holders have an account with the USCIS.

The USCIS account holders can complete their green card replacement form online and then return to their myUSCIS page to track the status of the application. If people don’t have an online account at USCIS, they can always mail the application form to USCIS.

3. Application to replace permanent resident card

The application to replace a lost or stolen green card is called the Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card. It can be filed online through myUSCIS or by mailing the paper application package to USCIS. This form asks the lawful permanent resident to provide information such as their name, mailing and physical address, date of birth, gender, county of birth, Alien Registration Number, Class of Admission, etc.

No matter online filing or paper filing, it is recommended to attach a copy of your previous green card if you still have it.

If you submit the I-90 form to USCIS by paper filing, it is important to be sure to sign the Form I-90, so that the USCIS does not reject the application. Generally, the I-90 form should also be accompanied by a filing fee.

4. Green card replacement fee

Those with LPR status who submit a Form I-90 paper application or the online petition to replace the permanent resident card usually need to pay a filing fee. Currently, the USCIS filing fee for a permanent resident card replacement is $455. An $85 biometrics fee is also required to replace cards that were lost, stolen, mutilated, or destroyed.

If an applicant wants to pay to replace their green card with a credit card, they can also complete a Form G-1450, Authorization for Credit Card Transactions. Lawful permanent residents who cannot afford to pay to replace their green card can apply for a fee waiver by filing Form I-912 together with the I-90 form. Supporting documents to prove applicant’s inability to pay the filing fee because of low income must be enclosed in the filing. Applicants who are receiving Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (known as“SNAP” and formerly called Food Stamps), Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are eligible for a fee waiver.

5. I-90 processing times

USCIS’s average processing times for most I-90 applications is 2-24 months. The processing times much more depend on its case load during certain period. If more applications filed with USCIS in certain period, then its processing times will be a little bit slower than normal.

After you duly file your I-90 application online or by mail, USCIS will issue you an I-797C Notice of Action within 2 weeks to confirm its acceptance. There is receipt number on the notice. You can check case status through USCIS online tool with this receipt number. If you have myUSCIS account, you may also track the case status after you login the account.

6. Other occasions when you might need to replace your green card

Besides the loss of your permanent resident card, either through theft or inadvertence, there are other times when you might need to replace it. These occasions include when you have changed your last name, when your green card is expiring, and when you received your permanent resident card while you were a teenager or younger. According to the immigration law, green card holders should replace their green card if it is granted before their 14th birthday.

7. Can you apply for U.S. citizenship if your green card is lost?

As long as you meet the requirements for naturalization, you may apply for citizenship by filing a Form N-400 Application for Naturalization no matter whether you have the physical green card at hand or not. Nevertheless, it is advisable to enclose a copy of I-797C Notice of Action of the I-90 application when filing the N-400 application to avoid a rejection by USCIS. Learn more about applying for U.S. citizenship in our article Apply for U.S. Citizenship FAQ.

8. Can you travel internationally if your green card is lost?

Yes, but you should get an I-551 stamp on your passport before leaving the United States. The procedure to get an I-551 stamp is as follows:

  • File an I-90 application with USCIS
  • Call USCIS at 1-800-375-5283 or Ask Emma to make an appointment with USCIS
  • Go to the USCIS local office on the appointment date with the passport and I-797C Notice of Action of the I-90 application. The USCIS officer will issue an I-551 stamp on the passport on the spot.

9. What if your green card is lost when you travel abroad?

You need to apply for a travel document by filing Form I-131A, Application for Travel Document. You should pay the I-131A filing fee online first then contact the near U.S. embassy or consulate to follow the issuance of your travel document.

Through DYgreencard.com, you will get an experienced immigration lawyer who can advise you if you are unsure about whether or not you need to replace your green card. 

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