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Step-by-Step: How to Replace a Lost or Stolen Green Card


A United States Green Card is not just a legal document; it's a symbol of residency and opportunity. Losing it, whether through misplacement, theft, or damage, can be unsettling. However, the process to replace it is manageable, ensuring that you retain your legal status and privileges. Here's a step-by-step guide to navigating the replacement process smoothly.

What is a Green Card?

A Green Card, officially known as a Permanent Resident Card, grants non-citizens lawful permanent residency in the United States. It signifies an individual's authorization to live and work in the U.S. indefinitely, holding many of the same rights as a U.S. citizen, including access to employment opportunities, social benefits, and the ability to sponsor relatives for immigration.

Issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), it serves as proof of legal residency status. Obtaining a Green Card is a significant step toward establishing a long-term presence and contributing to the fabric of American society.

When to replace a Green Card?

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Replacing a Green Card becomes necessary in various situations:

Loss or Theft: If your Green Card is lost or stolen, replacing it is crucial to maintain proof of your legal residency in the United States. Reporting theft to law enforcement and obtaining a police report is advisable.

Expiration: Renew your Green Card if it's approaching expiration (within six months) or has already expired. An expired card doesn't invalidate your permanent residency status but may hinder travel or employment opportunities.

Damage or Alteration: A damaged or altered Green Card might impede its functionality or compromise the accuracy of the information it holds. Replacing it ensures clarity and validity.

Biographic Changes: If your name, address, or other biographic information changes, updating your Green Card is essential to maintain accuracy and avoid complications.

Turning 14: Individuals who obtained a Green Card before turning 14 need to replace it once they reach that age to obtain an updated card with their biometric information.

Procedure to replace the Green card

1. Assess Your Eligibility to Replace Your Green Card

Before diving into the application process, ascertain your eligibility for a replacement. You may need to replace your Green Card if:

  • It's lost, stolen, or damaged.
  • Your biographic information has changed (name, address, etc.).
  • Your card is expiring within six months or has already expired.
  • You were issued a Green Card before turning 14 and have reached 14 years of age.

2. File Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card

The next step involves filling out Form I-90, which is the application to replace your Permanent Resident Card. This form can be completed and submitted online through the USCIS website or by mail. Ensure to provide accurate information and follow the instructions carefully to avoid delays.

3. Gather Supporting Documents

Accompany your Form I-90 with supporting documents, such as:

  • A copy of your current Green Card (if available).
  • A copy of your government-issued ID.
  • Evidence of a name change (if applicable).
  • Police report (if your Green Card was stolen).
  • Any other relevant documents requested in the application.

4. Pay the Application Fee

Processing fees are involved in replacing a Green Card. The fee varies and includes the application fee and, if applicable, the biometric services fee. Pay the fees as per the instructions provided by USCIS, either online or through mail.

5. Biometrics Appointment (If Required)

After submitting your application, you may be required to attend a biometrics appointment. This involves providing fingerprints, a photograph, and a signature for identity verification purposes. USCIS will notify you if a biometrics appointment is necessary.

6. Track Your Application Status

After submitting your application, you can track its status online through the USCIS website. This allows you to stay informed about any updates or additional requirements.

7. Receive Your New Green Card

Once your application is approved, you'll receive your new Green Card by mail. Ensure to review all the details on the card for accuracy upon its arrival.

8. Update Your Records

Upon receiving your new Green Card, update your records with relevant institutions, such as employers, banks, schools, and government agencies, to ensure your information is current.

You may also like to read: Navigating the Complexities of Green Card Marriage Laws

Cost of replacing the Green Card

The cost to replace a Green Card involves a USCIS filing fee, typically around $540, covering the application and processing. Additional costs may include biometrics fees, usually $85, for fingerprinting and photographs. However, these fees might vary based on individual circumstances or if you're replacing a damaged, lost, or stolen card.

Expedited processing incurs an extra fee. Applicants outside the U.S. may also factor in consulate fees. Proactive measures to safeguard your Green Card and prompt reporting of any loss or damage can save expenses. Always check the latest USCIS fee schedule for accurate and updated costs before initiating the replacement process.

Failure to replace the Green card

Failure to replace a Green Card can lead to complications. While it doesn't affect your permanent resident status, an expired, damaged, or lost card can pose hurdles for identification, employment verification, travel, and accessing government benefits. It might impede re-entry into the U.S. after international travel and cause challenges during official transactions.

Additionally, delaying replacement could lead to legal issues or fines, especially if unable to present a valid Green Card upon request by authorities. Promptly replacing it ensures smooth interactions, and compliance with regulations, and eliminates potential disruptions in daily life and travel plans.


Losing or damaging your Green Card might seem daunting, but following the replacement process diligently can ease the journey. Remember, timely replacement ensures that you maintain your legal status and rights as a permanent resident of the United States. If you encounter any challenges or have questions throughout the process, seeking guidance from legal experts or immigration services can be immensely helpful.

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