A Green Card is a Permanent Residence Card which shows that a person is allowed to work and live in the United States. It also serves as proof of your registration pursuant to immigration laws. It's different from a Visa which allows someone to temporarily reside in the United States for a specific time and purpose. With a green card, you become a permanent resident of the United States.
When Do I Need to Replace a Green Card?
Your green card may need to be replaced in the following circumstances:
- The green card contains erroneous information;
- The card was lost, stolen, mutilated, or destroyed;
- Your status has been automatically changed to permanent resident status;
- The name and information reflected on your green card has been legally changed;
- You never received your green card issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS);
- You are changing your immigration status (for example, from commuter status to permanent resident status);
- Your green card was issued to you before you reached age 14, and now you are older than 14 years old; and/or
- Your green card is no longer a valid version of alien registration card.
How Can I Replace My Green Card?
In order to replace your green card, you will need to fill out form I-90, the “Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card.” Read the form carefully and follow all instructions. Be sure to include any documentation and photographs that are requested. Fill out your application, including paying any documentation and filing fees, with your local USCIS office. If your request is approved, your green card will be mailed to the address you provide. The card expires in ten years.
If you lose your green card while you are not in the United States, contact an American consulate, a USCIS Office, or a Port of Entry.
It’s important to note that a replacement card is not needed if you seek to renew your green card. Renewal is required if your green card has lapsed after 10 years.
How Much Does It Cost to Replace My Green Card?
The application to replace your green card (Form I-90) is free, but (as of November 2017) there’s a $450 filing fee associated with requesting a replacement green card, plus a biometric services fee of $85 which may also be required. Failing to pay the mandatory fee will result in your application being denied. A replacement card can take anywhere from 2-6 months to process.
When Shouldn’t I Submit Form I-90?
You should NOT submit Form I-90 if you are currently under Conditional Resident Status and seeking to remove the conditions.
Instead, you should submit Form I-751 in order to remove conditions on a Green Card issued through a family connection or marriage, or Form I-829 for removing conditions based on your status as an investor or entrepreneur.
Knowing what form to complete and filling out immigration forms can be intimidating. If you need more guidance on how to replace your green card, consult an immigration attorney.
What Happens if I Don’t Replace My Green Card?
Immigration law requires that green card holders carry their card at all times. Failing to replace or renew your card when it’s necessary can result in you being charged with a misdemeanor. Misdemeanor charges range from a fine to even jail sentences. Failing to replace your green card may also negatively impact your chances of obtaining U.S. citizenship through naturalization.
Moreover, if you don’t have your green card, you cannot travel outside the United States. It may also hinder your ability to find employment or housing. For this reason, it is imperative that you replace your green card promptly when necessary.
Should I Hire a Lawyer?
Because you can face fines, penalties, and even misdemeanor charges for not having your green card, it is important to keep your green card current. When you receive your green card, check the card to make sure all the information is current and accurate. If you need help replacing your green card, a skilled immigration attorney can help you fill out the paperwork and file your application with the appropriate government agency.