The Legal Permanent Resident card, or Green card, as it is known by most US immigrants, is a government issued identification card that serves as proof of Legal Permanent Resident status. The US Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS) requires that Legal Permanent Residents always carry their green card. It is the size of a driver’s license and made from plastics, and so can easily be lost or damaged. Thus, many Legal Permanent Residents sometimes find themselves having lost or damaged their green card. In addition, these cards often expire after a certain period as most are valid for 10 years, and they must be renewed as LPRs are legally obligated to carry a valid green card.
It is important to note that although the green card is evidence of someone’s legal permanent residence status in the US, this does not mean that losing the green card means also losing one’s legal permanent residency status. The card is simply evidence of the status and serves as proof that the LPR is legally authorized to live and work in the US.
If an immigrant should lose their card, damage it, or if it expires, they can file an I-90 form to renew or replace that card. Although it is a simple form, there are several factors to consider prior to filing the I-90 form which will be discussed below. But first, we will discuss the process of filing for the I-90 form.
You may file an I-90 if your reason for filing fits within the following categories:
· Your previous card was lost, stolen, mutilated or destroyed
· Your card was issued to you before you were 14 and you have reached your 14th birthday (unless your card expires before your 16th birthday)
· You have been a commuter and are now taking up actual residence in the United States
· You have been a permanent resident residing in the United States and are now taking up commuter status
· Your status has been automatically converted to permanent resident status (this includes Special Agricultural Worker applicants who are converting to permanent resident status)
· You have a previous version of the alien registration card (e.g., USCIS Form AR-3, Form AR-103 or Form I-151 – all no longer valid to prove your immigration status) and must replace it with a current green card
· Your card contains incorrect information
· Your name or other biographic information on the card has been legally changed since you last received your card, or
· You never received the previous card that was issued to you by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
There are two ways to apply, by filing a paper form I-90 or by completing the online I-90 application. The filing fee is $455 plus the biometrics fee of $85 – total $540 which must be paid by check or money order.
The general evidence required depends on the reason why you are requesting a new card. If you lost your card, then you should file a police report with your local station and include a copy of that. But in all cases, you will need to include a copy of a valid government issued identification card that includes your name, birth date, picture, and signature. This can be a driver’s license, passport, or military identification. If your card was damaged, then you will need to include a copy of the green card. If your card has expired, then you will need to include a copy of the green card. Every category (reason for replacement) requires something specific, so be sure to mark the correct category and include the correct evidence to obtain an approval and a new card.
After you apply, you will receive a biometrics notice to complete fingerprint and photo at a local USCIS office. Once a decision is made, you will receive a notice in the mail, and if approved, a separate letter containing the new green card.
As discussed above, there are some reasons why you may not wish to apply to renew or replace your green card. If you have committed a crime since you received your green card or traveled outside the US for an extended period which was longer than six months or one year, then you may be putting yourself at risk of losing your legal permanent resident status if you apply for a replacement card. The reason for this is that any time you apply for an immigrant benefit, USCIS makes a determination whether you have violated your status or committed a crime which makes you deportable. If you think there is ANY chance that this may be the case, you should have your case reviewed by an immigration attorney to determine whether you should apply and any consequences you may face.
If you need assistance with applying for a green card replacement or advise whether you should apply, please contact our office at (248) 557-3645 for a free 15-minute consultation.