What to do if you Lost your Green Card

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Your green card is an important part of your ID. It proves your permanent residency status in the US and you are required by law to carry your green card everywhere. The card proves your right to live and work in the US and allows you to travel more freely in and out of the US. However, since you are required to carry your green card with you everywhere, you may find that you eventually lose this important piece of documentation. If you do lose your US green card, make certain that you:

  1. Look for the green card first. The green card renewal process can take some time and requires a filing fee, so it is often easiest to make certain that your green card really is lost before you apply for green card renewal. Check all the spots where your green card may be. If you have lost your wallet or green card in a public spot, check in local lost and found departments to see if anyone has returned your card.
  2. Report your card as missing. If you have indeed lost your green card, it is important to report it as missing to the police and to the USCIS. This ensures that if anyone tries to use your card for illegal purpose, you will not be held responsible. Get a copy of the police report as well, in case you need to prove that your card was lost. If you are traveling outside the US when your green card is lost, immediately contact the local US consulate or embassy for assistance.
  3. Start the process of replacing your lost green card. Most permanent residents will need to file Form I-90 (Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card) in order to replace a lost green card. However, if you will be traveling or are looking for work, you may need to contact InfoPass so that you can get an I-551 stamp on your current passport to prove your status until your green card arrives. However, if you are a conditional green card holder and your green card is close to expiry, you will need to file Form I-751 (Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence) instead of Form I-90. Form I-751 will allow you to receive a new green card that does not have conditions on it.

Losing your green card can be frightening, but it is important to stay calm and to act quickly. While you will generally not lose your permanent residency if you do not apply for green card renewal right away, getting a new green card is important in case you need to prove your status in the US. Applying for green card renewal promptly ensures that your new green card will arrive quickly so that you can have this important piece of ID in your wallet.