Mistake on Your Green Card: Who Pays the Replacement Fee?

If USCIS made the mistake, USCIS won't charge you the fee.

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If you notice a mistake on your new green card, such as your name having been misspelled, what should you do – and will you need to pay a new application fee to request a new card?

First off, it’s a good idea to request a new card instead of just trying to get by with the one containing the error. It’s important that the biographic information on your green card, passport, and any other current identity documents match up, so that you don’t encounter any issues when you travel in and out of the country or present these documents to complete your paperwork at a new job, for example.

Process for Requesting a Corrected Green Card

In order to request a corrected card, you must complete and submit a USCIS Form I-90, which can be easily downloaded from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website.

Before you begin completing the Form I-90, you should figure out whether you (or the person who helped you fill out the forms and submit the lawful permanent residence or "LPR" application) made the mistake, or whether USCIS is at fault in having made the error that appears on your card.

If it’s your name that is misspelled for example, review your application for lawful permanent resident status. Is your name spelled correctly on the forms and identity documents you submitted? If the information you provided was correct, then USCIS is clearly responsible for the error -- and you need not pay a fee when you file the Form I-90. If, however, you cannot attribute the mistake to USCIS, then you will have to pay the filing fee.

Some cases aren't entirely clearcut, however. As a practical matter, if you received your green card via adjustment of status and realize that you made a mistake filling out Form I-485 (say you left out a letter of your name by accident) but all the identity documents you submitted in support of your LPR application had your name spelled correctly, you can argue that you provided USCIS with the correct information even though your green card has your name as you misspelled it on the form. You would want to attach copies of the documents you submitted with the LPR application, like your birth certificate and passport, showing your correct name, and attach a letter that explains that they were part of your original LPR application and therefore you had provided USCIS with the correct information.

Completing Form I-90 If USCIS Made the Mistake on Your Green Card

When completing Form I-90 to request a corrected card, Part 2 of the Form can be slightly confusing. First, note that if you are a permanent resident, you will complete Part 2, Sections 1 and 2, and skip Part 2 Section 3. If you are a conditional resident (with a green card that expires in two years), however, you will complete Part 2, Sections 1 and 3, but skip Section 2. (For more information, see Nolo’s article, “Why Some Marriage-Based Green Cards Are "Conditional.")

If you are an LPR and USCIS made the mistake on your card, check box 2d: “My Existing Card Has Incorrect Data Because of USCIS Error.”

If you are a conditional resident and USCIS made the mistake on your card, check box 3d: “My Existing Card Has Incorrect Data Because of USCIS Error.”

USCIS requests that you attach your original card when filing Form I-90 to obtain a corrected card based on its error. In addition, the instructions request that you submit proof of your correct name and biographical data even if this information was previously submitted with your LPR application. You may want to explain in a cover letter that you provided the correct information to USCIS with your LPR application and that you are including copies of the documents you previously submitted with that application.

Again, there is no filing fee for filing Form I-90 in cases where USCIS was the source of the error.

Completing Form I-90 If You Caused the Error on Your Green Card

When completing I-90 when USCIS was not responsible for the error on your card, you’ll want to fill out Part 2 Sections 2 and 3 of the form as follows:

If you are an LPR, check box 2e: “My name or other biographic information has been legally changed since issuance of my existing card.”

If you are a conditional resident, check box 3e: “My name or other biographic information has been legally changed since issuance of my existing card.”

Attach proof of your correct biographical information, such as copies of the original court order reflecting your new name, your marriage certificate, divorce certificate, or other relevant court orders or identity documents. If the new documents might lead USCIS to wonder why you didn’t submit them with the original application, or other such complications, by all means consult with an attorney before submitting this application.

When filing Form I-90 based on an error not caused by USCIS, you must include the correct filing fees. The current filing fee for Form I-90 can be found on the “Forms” page of the USCIS website.

by: Caroline Donohue

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