Because your green card is proof that you have earned the right to reside and work in the United States, realizing that it's gone can be very stressful. Whether you lost your green card, or it was stolen, or it has expired it's not the end of the world; just because you no longer have your green card does not mean that you have also lost your status as a permanent resident. However, not having a green card can make your life harder, so replacing it as quickly as possible is a smart decision.
Lost and Stolen Green Card:
If you are inside the United States when your card is lost or stolen, you must file a petition to obtain a new green card. This process can be lengthy, as it may taken over half a year to get your new green card. If you have a need to travel out of the country before receiving your new green card, there are options that may provide you with the temporary means to do so. You can submit a request for a temporary stamp that will generally suffice as a temporary green card for traveling outside of the country as well as for employment purposes.
If you are not inside the United States when you lose your green card, you should notify the local police department and file a police report where you lost your card. To come back to the United States, you must petition the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Upon your arrival back in the United States, you will also need to submit a petition requesting a new green card.
Expired Green Card:
It's easy to let your green card expire, you don't use it every day, and its expiration can easily go unnoticed. Per U.S. law, all green card holders must carry their greed card with them at all times, but this is rarely enforced by the government. If your green card has expired, there is no need to panic, just like with a lost or stolen green card, you will not lose your status as a permanent resident just because your green card has expired. However, there are consequences to letting your green card expire without renewing it in a timely manner. For example:
It can be difficult to obtain new employment without a valid green card.
It can be difficult or impossible to reenter the United States on an expired green card.
You may not be able to renew your driver's license with an expired green card.
If you are inside the United States when your green card expires you must petition to renew your green card. If you wish to travel outside of the country before your green card has been renewed there are options that should allow you temporarily to do so. You can request for a stamp inside your foreign passport that should allow you to travel.
If you are outside the United States when your green card expires, you must file a petition with the nearest U.S. Consulate to obtain permission to return to the United States. Upon your arrival back into the United States you must file a petition to renew your expired card.
Losing Your Green Card (Abandonment of Residency)
There are many things that can cause you to lose lawful permanent resident status. A very common way that this happens it through unintentional abandonment of residency. Green card holders are allowed to travel outside of the United States for a variety of reasons, vacations, business trips, etc. But green card holders who are outside of the U.S. for long periods of time are at risk of accidentally abandoning their status as a permanent resident. This problem usually occurs when a green card holder reaches an entry point to the United States and is being questioned by an officer of Customs and Border Protection. Your green card will become invalid if you have been out of the United States for over a year. But, even if your trip(s) are only 180 days or more you can be asked more questions about the nature of your trip. If the officer determines that your trips outside of the U.S. are not temporary in nature, he may refer you to an immigration judge to place you in removal proceedings. The immigration court will then proceed to determine whether or not you have abandoned your green card.
This is an immigration legal blog. It is not intended to be used as legal advice. For further information please contact the law offices of attorney Ramona Kennedy.
Ramona Kennedy (Attorney) received her Jurisprudence Doctorate in America and is a licensed attorney in California (USA). Ramona Kennedy is a member of American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). Ramona Kennedy is fluent in English and Farsi (reading & writing) & speaks Azeri Turkish.
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