What Happens if your US Green Card is Destroyed?

Permanent residents or green card holders of the US are required to carry their US green card with them at all times. A US green card provides proof of status and is a form of identification. Failure to carry a valid US green card can result in misdemeanor charges, although no penalties are usually laid. Although you will not lose your permanent residency status by not carrying your US green card with you, losing or having your US green card destroyed can be a serious problem. You want to ensure that you have your green card on hand if you ever need to prove your status.

Unfortunately, because US green cards have to be carried with you at all times, it is possible that your green card will be lost or destroyed. Every year, for example, many US green cards are destroyed by fire, in accidents, and through other means. If your card is mutilated or completely destroyed, you will need to apply for a green card replacement right away. If your green card is destroyed, when you apply for your green card replacement, you will be given temporary documentation that can help you prove your status until your new green card arrives. Applying for green card replacement if your card is destroyed is especially important if you plan on traveling anytime soon. Your permanent presidency allows you to travel more freely to and from the United States, but you need documentation to prove your status before you leave the country.

You can apply for green card replacement by filing Form I-90 with the USCIS. The form is available online and you can file form I-90 online as well. One thing to keep in mind is that the form is used by the USCIS for green card renewal in all situations. This means that applicants who have their green card mutilated, lost, stolen, or simply out of date will also be using the same form in order to apply for a green card replacement. If your card has been destroyed, you will need to fill out the form in a specific fashion to indicate to the USCIS at your card has been destroyed. Read the instructions with Form I-90 carefully to ensure that you indicate correctly that your green card has been destroyed.

It can take weeks or months for your new green card to arrive. You will need to keep checking with the USCIS online to determine the status of your application. As well, you may need to secure temporary green card documentation or proof of your permanent residency so that you can prove your status if you need to apply for new job or if you need to leave the country. Since the green card renewal process can take some time, make sure that you update the USCIS if your address changes while you are waiting for your new green card. This helps ensure that your green card will be mailed to the correct address.