Green Card Renewal
Green cards or permanent residence cards, serve as proof of your legal immigration status that allows you to live and work in the United States. In most cases, they are valid for 10 years and need to be renewed before or when they expire. Other residency cards, known as conditional residency cards, are only valid for 2 years and need to be converted to standard green cards by applying to remove conditions within 90 days before expiration.
For the sake of convenience, we will only talk about renewing a 10-year green card because the application process associated with the 2-year card is entirely different.
Is Renewal The Right Choice?
In a broad sense, the answer would be a clear yes. The government requires green card holders to always have the card in your possession since a green card is the most genuine proof you can provide of your legal status.
If you want to remain a permanent resident of the United States, you need to be mindful about deadlines and timing for submitting your application to avoid any potential issues with employment, travel, or law enforcement encounters.
Timing for Filing
An important aspect to keep in mind is when you should file your application for renewal.
Your green card is valid for 10 years. In general, it is recommended to apply for renewal when the expiration date is within 6 months. It’s important to keep within this time frame as renewing too early or too late might result in complications. If you apply too early, the immigration office will treat your application as a replacement and send you a duplicate of your current card with the same expiration date, which means you will need to apply again for a new card with a new expiration. If you file late, your application will still be accepted, but the delay in processing times could mean you are without a valid card for months. This may cause problems with such things as employment, travel, renewing a license, and other applications and processes that require valid proof of your immigration status.
Forms and Procedure
As of right now, the only form required for green card renewal is called Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card. You may fill this application out online through the USCIS official website by creating an online account and submitting the information, fees, and required documents online. You may also choose to download and print the application to complete on paper and mail with the evidence and fees to the appropriate filing office.
Regardless of how you apply, be mindful of the details and documents required for your request. Discrepancies in your application may result in delays, errors, or rejection of your application. Make sure all information provided is accurate and up to date.
Unfortunately, processing times are often very slow and you can expect to wait months before you receive your new card.
Applying Through the USCIS Website
You will need to create an online account with USCIS by providing your email address and basic information. Through your account, you will have access to fill out and submit the Form I-90, scan the necessary documents, and obtain digital copies. Once the application is complete and the required documents have been scanned and uploaded, you will be asked to submit the application fee of $455 plus the $85 biometrics fee. This fee will also be paid online through your applicant portal.
By utilizing the website form, you will be given regular updates regarding your case and have access to your case history log. This will allow you to track your case from start to end. This method of applying also provides a way for you to maintain direct and secure contact with the relevant authorities on your case. If more evidence is deemed necessary to make a decision on your application, you’ll be able to provide it faster and with more ease.
Applying by Mail
The paper version of the application requests all of the same information and evidence as the online application. A physical signature and date is required and the fees must be sent with your application as a check or money order to The U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Even when you apply by mail, USCIS will create an online account for you to communicate with you about your case. Instructions on how to log in are provided to you with your receipt notice.
Consequences Of An Expired Green Card
While you won’t be deported, there are some genuine hurdles to deal with if your green card expires. The following are just some of the issues you might face with an expired card:
- If you’re abroad you won’t be able to prove your immigration status and may not be allowed back into the country
- You will not be allowed to renew your driver’s license
- You may not be accepted for new or continued employment
- You may not be able to apply for or receive certain benefits
- You may be detained at a check point for not having valid proof of your status
While you may still apply for a renewal after your card has expired, it is recommended to apply as soon as you are able to avoid problems like those mentioned above.
Save Time and Energy
Our office can assist you with filing to renew your resident card and communicate with USCIS on your behalf. We present the Form I-90 to you in a simplified, straight-forward manner and give you the opportunity to provide the required information without any confusion. Call to request your free initial consultation today. See also Motions to reopen or reconsider.