Lost My U.S. Green Card and Now I Need to Return to the U.S.

Misplacing or losing your U.S. green card can be quite the travel inconvenience. Before traveling a green card holder must have proof of a valid lawful permanent resident status in order to board an airline or any other transportation service upon exiting the country. But if you lost your green card or reentry permit while outside of the United States, there is a procedure to be able to get a temporary travel document.

Throughout the years, U.S. laws have demanded that transportation carriers such as airlines check passengers for passports and visas before allowing them entry into the U.S. As a matter of fact those laws enforce penalties for those passengers who are caught without the required travel documentation.

All lawful permanent residents traveling abroad short term can use their permanent resident card or reentry permit to reenter the U.S. Either document can be used when boarding a transportation carrier and when returning to the U.S. port of entry. However, if you attempt to enter the U.S. after your travel document was lost, stolen, destroyed or disfigured, you will most likely experience problems with U.S. immigration authorities.

Type of Form That Needs to Be Filed When A U.S. Green Card is Lost Overseas

Lawful permanent residents who lost a green card or reentry permit while traveling outside of the U.S. must submit a Form I-131A, Application for Travel Document (Carrier Documentation). Though the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) publishes the form, it will need to be submitted at a local U.S. Consulate or Embassy. The application form permits LPRs to apply for a temporary travel document (carrier document) if they:

  • Are returning from a short term visit abroad that is less than one year and their green card has been lost, stolen or destroyed or
  • Are returning from temporary overseas travel that is less than two years and their reentry permit was lost, stolen or destroyed

When Should a Form I-131A Not Be Filed

A Form I-131A Should not be filed if:

  • A U.S. green card was issued and the beneficiary has been abroad for a period of one year or more or
  • A reentry permit was granted and the holder of that document was overseas for a period for two years or more

Talk with your nearest immigration attorney on when to file or when you should not file a Form I-131A.

Has Your U.S. Green Card Expired While Abroad?

If your U.S. green card expired while outside of the U.S. you will probably not need to file Form I-131A. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) policy may allow a transportation carrier heading to the U.S. to grant entry to a legal permanent resident without any carrier documentation if the passenger has:

  • An expired U.S. green card with a 10 year expiration date or
  • An expired U.S. green card with a 2 year expiration date and a Form I-797C, Notice of Action, showing that they have filed a Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence or Form I-829, Petition by Investor to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status. The Notice of Action extends the authenticity of the card for a particular length of time, normally 24 months.

When is the Best Time to Speak to An Attorney

The moment you lose your U.S. Green Card you must seek an immigration lawyer for advice on what should be your next step. The Gambacorta Law Office is one call away at 847 443 9303 or you can visit our website to schedule an appointment online if you are still out of the country. We will gladly assist you every step of the way.