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My passport and visa were stolen. What do I do?

By December 13, 2022Immigration
2 passports and a map

Picture it: You’ve endured hours on a packed flight and navigating sterile airports and have finally arrived in New York City. First stop: Times Square. After soaking up the neon lights and street performances, you stop for a famous New York hot dog. You reach into your purse to find…that your wallet is gone, along with your passport and visa. Panic sets in. What do you do?

Unfortunately, part of traveling — to the United States or any country – is bearing the risk that you might lose your passport. Theft is a part of life in the United States, especially in busier cities.

If you find yourself in this situation – having lost your passport and visa – this blog post is for you.

First, get your bearings

Find a safe place – perhaps a hotel lobby or a nearby restaurant – and catch your breath. Check to make sure you have not simply misplaced your passport.

Keep in mind that just because you lost your passport and visa does not mean that you are not allowed to stay in the United States. The document that controls your stay is the Form I-94, which is now digital and can be accessed on the CBP website here. You are allowed to stay in the United States until the expiration date on your I-94, even if you have lost your passport and visa.

Next, report the incident to the police

If you suspect that you are a victim of theft, it is important that you report the incident to the police. This helps to ensure that there is a record of the incident in case you are ever asked about it (such as when you apply for a new visa by filing a Form DS-160).

Also, the police might be able to help you retrieve your passport and visa (fingers crossed).

Apply for a new passport

Learn where the nearest consulate or embassy for your home country is. Contact them and start the process of replacing your lost passport. The process will differ by country, but it is generally a good idea to look online or call the consulate before visiting to make sure you know their hours of operation and what information you will need to have with you. If you need a place to do some online research, a library can be a good and welcoming spot.

Finally, apply for a new visa

There is, unfortunately, no easy way to replace a lost visa from within the United States. As a result, if you intend to depart from the United States and then to return, you will need to apply for a new visa at a U.S. consulate abroad by filing a Form DS-160.

Keep in mind that this is only necessary if you plan to travel outside the U.S. and to return to the U.S. If you do not plan to return to the U.S. after you depart, there is probably no need to apply to replace your visa – as explained above, you do not need a visa in order to remain in the U.S.

We have posted more details on the process of replacing a passport or visa in an earlier post here.

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