Green Card Replacement: Everything You Need to Know About the Green Card Replacement Process

Replacing your green card can be a time-consuming process. However, it is necessary if something happens to your old card. The law requires that permanent residents keep their green cards with them at all times.

While replacing a green card can be a long process, it is a relatively simple one, as long as you know what to do. This guide can provide you with everything you need to know to accurately file your application to replace your permanent resident card and get your new card as soon as possible.

What Is a Green Card?

A green card is an informal name for a permanent resident card. A green card does not grant the owner the right to permanent residence. Instead, it serves as proof that this right has been granted. Because of this, a lost green card will not void your status as a lawful permanent resident. However, it could create other unwanted complications in your life if not replaced.

Why Do You Need to Have a Green Card All the Time?

United States law requires that all lawful permanent residents carry their green card with them at all times to prove their immigration status if necessary. Failure to comply with this requirement is a misdemeanor and can be punished by jail time or a fine. If you need a replacement green card for any reason, it is critical that you apply as soon as possible.

Eligibility to Replace Your Green Card

In general, a green card holder is eligible to replace their card if their old card expires, is lost, stolen, or damaged, contains incorrect information, or was never received.

Lawful Permanent Residents

Lawful permanent residents can, and must, replace their green cards in the following situations:

  • Your old green card has expired or will within the next six months
  • Your old card was lost, stolen, damaged, or destroyed
  • You received your old card before turning 14 and have now reached your 14th birthday (unless your previous card will expire before you turn 16
  • You were a commuter but are now taking up actual residence in the U.S.
  • You had permanent residence in the U.S. and are taking up commuter status
  • Your immigration status was automatically converted to permanent resident status
  • You have a previous version of the alien registration card that is no longer valid
  • Your card contains incorrect information either through an error or a change to your biographical data
  • You never received your previous green card

Conditional Permanent Residents

If you are a conditional permanent resident, you can and must replace your permanent resident card if:

  • Your old card was lost, stolen, damaged, or destroyed
  • Your card contains incorrect information either through an error or a change to your biographical data
  • You never received your previous green card

Is your green card been lost? Check the lost green replacement process from inside and outside the United States. Mistakes on your USCIS application forms can lead to rejection, denial, or delay in processing your application. Prepare your application safely and securely with our Immigration Lawyer and online software to eliminate costly mistakes and file correctly. Get Started Now.

How to Replace Your Green Card

The first thing you must do when replacing your green card is to file Form I-90: Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card. This process will differ depending on whether you need to replace your green card while in the U.S. or abroad.

Inside the U.S.

Replacing your green card while in the U.S. is fairly straightforward. You can file your replacement application online or through the mail by completing Form I-90 and submitting it along with the required documentation and the green card replacement fee.

Outside the U.S.

Things are a bit more complicated when you need to replace a green card while abroad. If your green card is lost or stolen while traveling, you should notify the local authorities, request a police report, and contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate for further instructions.

If your card is not recovered, you will likely need to file Form I-131A: Application for a Travel Document and pay a $575 fee so that you can receive a temporary document allowing you to reenter the United States. Once back in the country, you will need to file Form I-90 as soon as possible.

If your green card expires while you are abroad, you could face problems boarding your flight to the U.S. or even be denied permission to enter the country when you arrive. Try to avoid traveling abroad with an expired or expiring green card and contact United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) if doing so is unavoidable.

Green Card Replacement Process

The process for renewing or replacing a green card is far simpler than filing most other types of immigration paperwork. However, the process is still a long one, and a single application mistake can cause significant delays.

Step 1: Preparing the Form I-90

The first step in renewing or replacing your permanent resident card is to complete Form I-90: Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card. You can complete this form online by creating a USCIS account or print the form and apply through the mail.

Step 2: Gather the Required Documents for the Submission

You must submit supporting documents along with Form I-90. When renewing your expired or expiring green card, you will simply need to include a copy of your current or recently expired card. However, the supporting documents differ depending on the specific reason you are replacing your green card.

If Your Previous Green Card Has Been Lost, Stolen, Destroyed, or Mutilated

You will need to include a copy of your green card or another form of government-issued identification that contains your name, photo, date of birth, and signature.

If You Never Received the Green Card That USCIS Issued for You

You will need to include a copy of a government-issued identification that contains your name, photo, date of birth, and signature. You will also need either a copy of your latest Form I-797: Notice of Action regarding the issuance of your green card or a copy of the page in your passport containing the I-551 stamp you received if admitted to the U.S. as an immigrant.

If Your Existing Card Has Incorrect Data Because the Department of Homeland Security Made an Error

You will need to include your original green card, along with proof of your correct biographical data.

If Your Name or Other Biographical Information Has Legally Changed, or if Your Card Has Incorrect Data and the Error Was Not Caused by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security

You will need to include a copy of your green card, along with appropriate legal documentation proving your new or correct biographical data.

If You Are a Permanent Resident Who Is Taking Up Commuter Status

You will need to include a copy of your green card, along with evidence of your employment dated within the last six months.

If You Are a Commuter Who Is Taking Up Actual Residence in the United States

You will need to include a copy of your green card, along with evidence of your U.S. residence. If the proof of your residence is in the name of your spouse, you must also provide a copy of your original marriage certificate.

If You Have Been Automatically Converted to Lawful Permanent Resident Status

You will need to include a copy of a government-issued identification that contains your name, photo, date of birth, and signature, along with evidence of your temporary residence status.

If You Have a Prior Edition of the Alien Registration Card or Are Applying to Replace Your Current Permanent Resident Card for a Reason That Is Not Specified Above

You will need to include a copy of your current green card.

If You Have Reached Your 14th Birthday, Did You Provide the Following?

A copy of your current green card.

Step 3: Pay the Replacement Fee

After gathering your supporting evidence, you will need to prepare the filing fee. The fee for filing Form I-90 is $455. You may also need to pay an accompanying $85 for the biometrics fee. When renewing your card online, you will pay the filing fee on the USCIS website using a debit or credit card.

If filing through the mail, you can pay by money order, personal check, cashier’s check, or with a credit card by filing Form G-1450: Authorization for Credit Card Transactions. Your payment must be made payable to the United States Department of Homeland Security.

In some cases, you may be able to get the filing fee waived. However, this is only possible if you are filing through the mail.

Step 4: File Your Green Card Replacement Application

After completing steps one through three, you will be ready to file your replacement application. You should create a cover letter explaining why you are requesting a replacement card and gather this letter along with your application, supporting documents, and fees into a single packet.

For online submission of a green card replacement request, you may be able to upload your supporting documents when filing your application. However, USCIS may request that they be sent by mail. When filing by mail, you can send your packet to the appropriate USCIS address.

What Happens After Applying for Replacement?

After you submit your application to replace your green card, USCIS will send you a notification of the acceptance of your application through the mail. This notification does not mean that your application has been approved. Instead, it indicates that USCIS has received your application and is in the process of reviewing it.

Your notification letter will contain a 13-character receipt number. You can use this number to check the status of your replacement application. You can also access all this information through your online USCIS account. If you have not created an account, USCIS will create one for you, and provide you with the account details in your notification letter.

After getting this first notification, USCIS will send you notice of a scheduled biometrics appointment where you will be photographed, fingerprinted, and provide your signature. USCIS may also request additional supporting documents at any point during the review process.

Green Card Replacement Processing Time

You will likely have to wait for one to three weeks for notice of the receipt of your application, then another one to three weeks for the notification of your scheduled biometrics appointment. Your appointment will be scheduled for around two weeks after you receive the notice. You will then have to wait for approximately four to eight months.

All told, it should take from six to 10 months between submitting your application and the issuance of your new green card.

Is It Possible to Expedite the Green Card Replacement Process?

In certain cases, it might be possible to expedite the green card replacement process. Decisions on whether or not to expedite are made on a case-by-case basis and are at the discretion of USCIS. USCIS may agree to expedite your green card replacement application in situations involving:

  • An emergency
  • Severe financial loss
  • Humanitarian reasons
  • An error by USCIS

How to Check the Status of Your Green Card Replacement Application

You can check the status of your application to replace your green card by going to the USCIS “Check Status” page and entering your 13-character receipt number. On this page, you can view the entire history of your application.

You can also request to be notified of the acceptance of your application form by text message or through email by filing Form G-1145: e-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance along with your Form I-90 application.

What to Do if Your Replacement Application Is Denied

In the rare event that your green card replacement application gets denied, you still have options to possibly get this decision overturned. If USCIS denies your application, you will receive a letter explaining why this decision was made. If your application gets denied, you can file a motion requesting that USCIS reconsider the decision.

For a successful motion, you will need to supply evidence showing how the original decision was based on incorrect information or provide new evidence that supports your case for green card replacement.

To file a motion for your case to be reconsidered, you must submit Form I-290B: Notice of the Appeal or Motion within 30 days of the original decision. You will also need to pay a $675 filing fee or submit a request for the fee to be waived due to financial hardship.

FAQs on Green Card Replacement

Browse these frequently asked questions about the green card renewal process to find the answers you need.

How Many Times Can You Replace Your Green Card?

There is no limit on the number of times you can replace your green card, as long as you do not commit any offense that voids your right to permanent residency. You can continue to replace your green card whenever necessary for the rest of your life until you no longer desire permanent residency, or until you apply for U.S. citizenship.

How Do You Waive the Green Card Replacement Fee?

You can request a waiver of the fee to replace your green card based on a variety of factors. To make this request, you must file Form I-912: Request for Fee Waiver. You can base your request on:

1. Evidence that your household income is equal to or less than 150% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines
2. Evidence showing that you receive a “means-tested benefit,” like Social Security Income, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or Temporary Assistance to Needy Families
3. Evidence that you are experiencing financial hardship, such as unemployment, homelessness, or significant medical expenses

What if My Green Card Was Lost While Waiting for Citizenship?

If you lose your green card while waiting for U.S. citizenship, it should not interfere with your application. Include an explanation when filing your citizenship application or attending your citizenship interview explaining why you don’t have your green card, along with a photocopy of the card, if available.

I Lost My Green Card; Can I Travel Abroad?

If your green card is lost or stolen, you should still be able to travel abroad while you wait for your new card to arrive, as long as you make an appointment with your local USCIS office before you leave.

At your appointment, you can request an I-551 stamp in your passport, which is valid for one year and serves as temporary proof of your permanent resident status.

File an Application to Replace Your Green Card Today

It can take a while to get your replacement green card, so it is best to file Form I-90 as soon as possible when you need to replace your old green card. At ImmigrationDirect, we can help you ensure that your application gets filed correctly so that you don’t face any further unnecessary delays.

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