Immigration: Issues Related to the Green Card
Losing your Green Card - If you lose your Green Card [or it is stolen] you should report the loss or theft to the local police department. A replacement card can be obtained by contacting the INS office [toll free 1-800-755-0777] to request Form I-90, "Application to Replace Alien Registration Card." The instructions for completion are included with the application. You should be aware that you must pay a filing fee, and that a copy of the Green Card must be attached to the application.
It is advisable to keep a copy of your Green Card in a safe place other than your wallet, so that if it is stolen or lost, you can present the copy to the authorities and include it with your Application to Replace Alien Registration Card.
Changing your Name - If your name changes due to marriage or divorce, the same Form I-90 can be completed and used to obtain a new Green Card with your new name. The following items must be attached to the application:
- A copy of the marriage license or divorce decree from the court; and
- The original of your Green Card.
Naturally, many people are wary of sending in their original Green Card. Be sure to make copies of your Green Card and keep them in several locations, including your wallet. Be careful not to change your address until either the application has been submitted with the new address, or you receive the new card [with the old address.]
Leaving the US - There are rules regarding the time period for leaving the US and remaining outside the US. You should be careful about leaving the US for an extended period of time if you have been granted a Green Card. The time limits vary and there are several exceptions, so these rules may not be applicable to you. In any event, you should use caution before you leave for an extended period, and be sure to obtain legal advice about your case from an immigration attorney before you leave, so that you know when you must return. The penalties are severe and may result in a requirement that you re-apply, possibly encountering substantial delays the second time around.