A green card is physical proof of your right to live and work in the United States. If you have lost your green card (or it’s been stolen), rest assured, it is replaceable. Follow these steps to replace your green card (also known as a permanent resident card).
How do I file form I-190 to replace a green card?
The first to step to replacing your green card is filing Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card. You can also use this form to replace your green card for these reasons:
- Your green card has incorrect information
- You have legally changed your name
- You were issued a card but it never reached you
- Your green card has been completely or partially destroyed
- Your green card is about to expire (best to file at least 6 months before expiration date)
If you are a conditional resident, you cannot use this form to remove conditions on your green card. Learn more about removing conditions on your green card here.
Submit the following along with your form:
- A copy of your permanent resident card (front and back) OR
- A copy of government-issued ID such as a passport or driver’s license
How long does it take to replace a green card?
The USCIS website currently estimates 4.5 to 12 months to process green card replacement applications. You can check the most recent estimate by clicking here and selecting Form I-90 from the drop down menu.
How much does it cost to replace a green card?
Along with form I-90 and supporting documentation, you must include $540 in filing fees ($455 application fee + $85 biometrics fee). You do not have to pay anything at all if:
- Your card was issued and you never received it
- Your card arrived with incorrect information on it (DHS error)
You must pay your fees by check or money order, payable to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security”. Do not abbreviate! Your check or money order must be drawn on a U.S. based financial institution. There is a credit card option, but that requires you to fill out another form.
If your household income is at or below 150% of the poverty line or you currently receive a benefit such as Medicaid or SNAP (food stamps), you may qualify for a fee waiver. You can find more information about fee waivers here.
What happens after filing form I-90?
Approximately 1-3 weeks after you file your application, you should receive a receipt notice in the mail from the USCIS. This letter is officially known as Form I-797C, Notice of Action. You can use the receipt number on this notice to check the status of your case online.
If your application is missing anything, you may receive a letter requesting additional information. This is called an RFE (request for evidence). Make sure to double and triple check your form before filing – missing documentation and form errors can result in significant delays.
Roughly 4-6 weeks after filing, you should receive a biometrics notice (if applicable to you) with the date, time and location of your fingerprinting appointment. Allow yourself some time to clear security on the day of your appointment. Most appointment centers have x-ray machines and metal detectors (very similar to an airport). You will again need a government-issued ID like a passport or license to get inside the building (along with your appointment notice).
After this, sit back and wait for your green card to arrive. Please note, the USCIS will not mail green card to foreign addresses – you must provide a U.S. address in your application.
Lost green card abroad
If you lose your green card while abroad, you have to file Form I-131A, Application for Travel Document and go to the nearest U.S. Consulate. You first pay the fee online ($575) and then apply for travel authorization in person. Without a green card, you cannot re-enter the U.S. The U.S. Consulate will provide you with a boarding foil (placed inside your passport, like a visa) or letter authorizing travel back to the U.S. Find the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate here. Bring the following with you to the Consulate or Embassy:
- Your passport
- Copy of the biographic page of your passport
- One passport photo
- Copy of tickets/itinerary
- Copy of your green card (if you have one)
Filing a police report
In addition to replacing your green card, you should also file a police report in the case of a lost or stolen green card. If you have a copy of your green card, bring one with you.
Can I still travel if I lost my green card and my I-90 is pending?
If you need to travel outside of the U.S. while you are waiting on your green card replacement, call the USCIS Contact Center at 1-800-375-5283 USCIS so they can schedule an appointment at a USCIS field office for you. At this appointment, you can request a I-551 stamp, which serves as evidence of your permanent residence and allows you to travel. Take the I-797, Notice of Action you received after you filed form I-90.
Do I need an immigration attorney?
Filing form I-90 is fairly straight-forward and many people fill out the form themselves. However, if you have any immigration violations or past arrests, it is best to work with an immigration attorney. If you are stumped by any of the questions and unsure how to answer, don’t guess – talk to an attorney. Mistakes can be costly and cause unnecessary delays. If you need help with the replacement of your green card, you can find pre-screened immigration lawyers with over a decade of experience on Ask Ellis. We look forward to helping you!
*The content and materials available via Ask Ellis are for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice.