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Procedures to be followed when Green Card is lost / stolen

Procedures to be followed when Green Card is lost / stolen

A Green Card is the permanent resident card which validates your stay in the U.S. and gives an individual the right to legally live and work in the country. It is an important identity document that stands testimony to the fact that the individual has complied with the immigration requirements of the nation. In case of Green Card lost / stolen, filing a police report increases the chance that your original Green Card can be found and returned to you without needing to replace it.

Impact of lost / stolen Green Card on U.S. employments

  • A Green Card serves as proof of your right to work in the United States
  • If your Green Card is lost or stolen, you have no proof of employment authorization
  • If your Green Card is lost / stolen / invalid, your potential employer has the right to refuse to hire you in case of new employment
  • The employer has no obligation to hire you, but they may not be willing to accommodate your situation
  • Some employers might be willing to wait till the card is replaced if you submit a photocopy of your lost/stolen Green Card, along with the Notice of Action [I-797]
  • If you are in the middle of an employment there is no reason to inform your employer that your Green Card was lost or stolen

The process to replace a lost/stolen Green Card generally takes about 4 months. Processing time may vary based on the workload at USCIS. The process for replacing a stolen or lost Green Card is similar to that of Green Card renewal with the USCIS via Form I-90. This blog explores in details about the few extra steps to consider that ensures a speedy resolution to replace your lost Green Card.

If Green Card is lost / stolen inside the U.S.

  • If Green Card is lost or stolen, do not panic
  • Keep calm to collect your thoughts and try to retrieve the card
  • If you cannot find the card, immediately report to the USCIS
  • File a report with the police informing the loss of card
  • This measure will serve as a record if an attempt is made to misuse the card
  • Next step is to file form I-90 to replace the lost / stolen card
  • A notice of action [I-797] will be mailed by the USCIS within 2-3 weeks after filing Form I-90
  • I-797 stands as a proof of your lost card and the fact that you started the Green Card replacement process
  • Fix an appointment at your local USCIS office and appear with your passport and Notice of Action
  • Get your passport stamped with “I-551” which is temporary evidence that proves you are a permanent resident
  • The stamped passport can generally be used in place of the Green Card while it is still valid
  • I-551 stamped passport and form I-797 [Notice of Action] will be the temporary document evidence for permanent resident till such time the Green Card is replaced. If Green Card lost / stolen outside the U.S.
  • If you are travelling outside the United States and your Green Card is lost / stolen then entering into the U.S. will be a major problem
  • Without Green Card a permanent resident cannot re-enter into the U.S.
  • Airlines and ships travelling to the U.S. are legally required to obtain proof of passenger status before boarding
  • The lost / stolen Green Card has to be immediately reported to the nearest police station and a copy of the report has to be kept safe
  • A statement that Green Card is lost / stolen has to be published in the local newspaper and the individual has to carry the receipt for the published ad along with the newspaper in which the ad is published
  • The individual should apply “Transportation letter” [Form I-131A] from the nearest US Consulate or Embassy
  • With the transportation letter (carrier documentation) the individual can board the transportation carrier (Airlines / Vessel)
  • The transportation letter authorizes the airline carrier to transport the individual to the U.S. without having to pay a fine
  • The filing fee for transportation letter is non-refundable even if the application is rejected
  • The grant of a transportation letter takes a while for checking and validation of facts
  • The transportation letter is valid for 15 days after the date of issue
  • If you do not travel within the 15 days, you have to file the application again along with the prescribed fees
  • As soon as the individual enters into the U.S., the individual has to file Form I-90 to replace the lost / stolen card

Requisite documents to apply for the transportation letter:

  • Valid passport
  • Filled Form I-90
  • Proof of most recent departure from the U.S. (eg: Boarding pass)
  • Proof of Legal permanent resident (LPR) status, such as copy of Green Card
  • Detailed explanation about the loss / theft of Green Card
  • Police report relating to the lost Green Card
  • 3 passport sized photographs
  • A fee of $360 paid in dollars or equivalent local currency in cash or a demand draft

If Green Card is lost in the mail

  • It is important to provide the correct address to the USCIS and to remain in the same address until the time of delivery of the card
  • It is almost impossible to track down a Green Card lost in mail
  • The first step is to check with the USCIS and see if it was returned as undeliverable
  • If the card is found as not returned to the USCIS, notify the USCIS
  • The next step would be to file Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card
  • If your Green Card was mailed to the address you provided in your application but it was not returned to the USCIS, you must pay the full fee for filing Form I-90
  • If the undelivered Green Card was sent back to the USCIS, then the fee may be waived
  • It is advised to wait 30 days before assuming that your Green Card was lost in the mail
  • 30 days is the time required between mailing and returning undeliverable Green Card to the USCIS
  • If your Form I-90 application is approved, you will be mailed a replacement Green Card with a 10-year expiration date from the date it is issued

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Disclaimer: is a private company which is not affiliated to USCIS or any government agency. We neither provide legal advice nor are a law firm. Also, we only provide self-help services at your reach and are not a substitute for the advice of an attorney.