When your lawful Permanent Residence Card, commonly known as a “green card,” is lost or stolen, it is very inconvenient. You may also feel frightened and frustrated. Follow the steps below to get a green card replacement. These steps will also help prevent another person from illegally using your lost green card or stolen green card. The steps are slightly different depending on where the theft or loss happens: in the United States or in a foreign country.
If your green card is lost or stolen inside the United States:
1. File a police report. Do this as soon as you realize your card is missing. You do not have to call 911. Simply visit or call your local police station.
Call 911, however, if you have been the victim of a crime or find yourself in a dangerous situation! For example, if someone stole your purse or wallet, call 911 immediately.
When you make the report, be sure the police officer lists on it that your green card was one of the items stolen. The police report is necessary for two reasons:
- You have evidence that you no longer have the card. This allows you to defend yourself if another personal tries to use it.
- A police report is the most credible document to prove to immigration authorities that you don’t have your green card.
2. Apply for a replacement card. Fill out form I-90. Submit it to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) with the green card replacement fee (also called a filing fee), documents, and a copy of the police report.
DO NOT file for a replacement green card if you have a criminal history or long absences from the USA without first talking to an immigration attorney.
Once you submit your I-90 form, you will receive a receipt from USCIS. This receipt will serve as a temporary extension and evidence of your green card. You may need to take that receipt to your local USCIS office by making an Infopass appointment. Before you receive your new green card, they will stamp your green card status in your passport if you plan to travel outside the USA.
3. Call the major credit bureaus and your bank. Ask them to flag your account. Ensure they get permission from you before approving large transactions or loans. This will protect you if someone tries to use your green card for financial gain.
4. Document everything you do and monitor the situation. Keep copies of everything you file. Watch your credit and financial accounts carefully for at least three months.
If your card is lost or stolen while traveling outside of the United States:
1. File a police report. Do this as soon as you realize your card is missing. You may feel intimidated because of language or cultural barriers. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from your hotel’s concierge, airline agent, or travel agency representative.
2. Call the nearest US Embassy or Consulate. Explain that you have an emergency. Let them know your green card has been stolen or lost, and be sure to tell them you have a police report.
3. Get a temporary travel permit. The Consulate will let you make an appointment, and they will issue you a temporary travel permit.
It’s easier and faster to get a temporary travel permit if you have a copy of your green card. We advise that you leave a copy with a loved one. Then they can email or fax you a copy.
Note: If your passport is also lost or stolen, you will have to contact the Consulate of your home country. They will need to issue you an emergency temporary travel document.
4. Use your temporary travel documents at immigration inspection. When you return to the USA, you have to go through immigration inspection. Use the temporary travel permit instead of your green card.
5. Get a replacement green card and watch your credit. Once you’re safely back in the United States, follow steps 2–4 above. These steps will help you apply for a replacement green card. You’ll also notify financial institutions and monitor your credit and bank accounts for any suspicious activity.
If You Have Questions, Contact Antonini & Cohen Today!
If you have questions about your green card, Antonini & Cohen is here to help! Our office has been representing green card holders since 1991. Send us a message or call us today at 404-850-9394.
At Antonini & Cohen, we have been providing energetic, effective and aggressive representation in all areas of American immigration law since 1991.