If you have lost your Alien Registration Card (I-551), also known as a “green card,” and wish to return to reside in the United States, you will need to appear in person at the U.S. Consulate in Johannesburg, Durban, or Cape Town to apply for a Transportation Letter. The fee for a transportation letter is US $165. This will allow you to be re-admitted to the United States, however an I-551 card can only be replaced/re-issued by the Immigration Service (CIS) within the U.S. The USCIS Website provides general information and directions necessary to apply for lawful permanent residence (LPR), and obtain Form I-1551, a permanent resident alien registration card, including renewal or replacement.
In order to issue you with a Transportation/Boarding letter we require the following evidence of your current legal status in the U.S.:
Your valid passport with ADIT stamp (U.S. Immigration entry stamp) showing your “A” number (8 digit number)
Any other documentation/letters from U.S. Immigration Service (CIS) regarding current status
Proof of departure from the U.S. showing you left the U.S. less than 1 year ago (airline tickets/stubs, itinerary from Travel Agent, boarding pass)
In addition, at the time of your interview at the Consulate General, you must be able to provide certain other information, including:
- 3 passport type photographs (full face photo, with ears exposed, not covered by hair)
- details of the category and port of entry for your original entry into the U.S. as a legal permanent resident
Note: If you are not able to satisfy the Consulate of your legal status in the United States, your case will be referred to the regional Immigration Service office of the Department of Homeland Security, for confirmation of your status. Please allow several days for this process.
If you left your Alien Registration Card (I-551) in the United States, you should ask friends or relatives there to send you the card by express mail.
Extended Stay Outside the U.S.
Residents or immigrants who lived in the United States previously as lawful permanent residents and are returning to live in the United States after a temporary visit of more than one year abroad, for reasons beyond their control, must file a DS 117 (PDF file) with a Consular Officer at the U.S. Consulate in Johannesburg. A DS 117 cannot be filed at the U.S. Consulates in Cape Town and Durban or the U.S. Embassy in Pretoria.