A green card, also called a permanent resident card, provides evidence of your legal stay in the U.S. The card gives you the right to live and work in the U.S legally. In addition, it provides proof that you have complied with the immigration requirements of the U.S.
People with this card type are permitted to travel outside of the country, but what if they lose their card while they are abroad? Can they get back into the country? Here’s how to apply for a lost green card while you’re abroad.
Why Do I Need My Green Card While I’m Abroad?
You need to have physical possession of the green card to be allowed re-entry in the U.S. It is proof that you are a resident of the country. Without one, like any other foreign national, you would need to get an entry visa.
However, getting another U.S. visa will make your permanent residence status much more complicated. It could even get it revoked. That’s why you should instead get a replacement green card if you lose yours while you’re abroad.
How to Recover a Lost or Stolen Green Card While Abroad
If your green card is lost or stolen, visit the nearest embassy or consulate and apply for a “transportation boarding foil” or a transportation letter. These travel documents authorize the airline carrier to transport you to the U.S. without having to pay any fines and are valid for 15 days after the date of issue.
To apply for a boarding foil or transportation letter, you must submit or be prepared to present the following:
- Valid passport
- A boarding pass that provides information about the most recent departure date
- Proof of legal permanent resident (LPR) status, such as a copy of the front and back of your permanent residence card
- Detailed explanation about why you don’t have the card with you
- Police report relating to the lost or stolen green card
- One passport-sized photograph
- A $575 filing fee plus $85 for your biometrics exam, paid in U.S. dollars or equivalent local currency in the form of cash or a demand draft
This may seem like a lot of documentation and hassle, but there’s no getting around it. It’s essential to always keep your green card with you while you’re outside of the country so that you can avoid this extra step when returning to the U.S.
You should also take a photo of your passport and green card, both front and back, just in case the worst happens. That will be one less hurdle for you.
Who Is Eligible for a Boarding Foil or Transportation Letter?
Not every traveler who loses their paperwork is eligible to apply for a boarding foil or transportation letter. To qualify, you must:
- Have been admitted to the U.S. as an LPR, either with or without conditions
- Still have valid LPR status
- Be abroad temporarily, with no intention of abandoning your legal status in the United States
- Plan to return to the U.S. after an absence of less than one year
- Not have possession of your green card if, for example, it was lost, stolen, or mutilated
What Happens After I Apply for a Transportation Letter?
The process takes a few days to confirm the status with other concerned offices. If the application is accepted, you will receive a transportation letter that is valid for 15 days. Once you have the letter, get an airline ticket and head back to the U.S. immediately.
If you do not travel within the 15 days, you will have to file the application again, along with the prescribed fees. Remember that the filing fee is not refundable in case the application is denied.
How Do I Get My Green Card Back?
The transportation boarding foil will let you fly back to the U.S. if your green card is lost or stolen. However, you’ll still need to request a replacement card by filing Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card.
This is the same form you’d use to apply for a replacement green card if you were in the U.S., so the procedure is similar.
The receipt from the accepted Form I-90 can serve as a temporary replacement for your lost green card. It is valid for one year while you wait for your new card to come in the mail at the address you have registered with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
FileRight Offers Risk-Free Application Packages
Applying for travel documents or a replacement green card can be a daunting and expensive task. And if your application is denied for any reason, you will have to start back and square one. Thankfully, you do not have to face these immigration headaches on your own.
FileRight has streamlined and automated filing packages to help you successfully acquire both travel documents and replacement green cards. In addition, we are so confident in our system that we will refund all fees, including those paid to the government, if the USCIS denies your petition.
Take our Travel Document Qualification Quiz to determine the next steps to take after you lose your green card abroad.