If you are a green card holder and your green card has expired, you may be interested in learning more about the renewal process. Green cards are usually valid for 10 years after which they expire, thus needing renewal. As a general rule, it is advisable to start the renewal process six months prior to the expiration date.
However, if for some reason you were unable to renew your green card on time, here’s everything you need to know before initiating the renewal process.
What Happens When A Green Card Expires?
This is usually the first question most permanent residents ask when their green cards expire for the first time. Unless you have previously renewed your card, it is normal to be worried when it expires for the first time. One thing you need to know is that you will not lose your permanent resident status once the green card expires. However, an expired green card could cause some inconveniences and disappointments that you may not wish to face ever again.
First of all, there are no penalties for expired green cards; you will pay the same renewal fee. As of February 2022, the green card renewal fee is $540, however, because these fees change frequently, it is advisable to check the website of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for the updated filing fee.
So what’s the big deal if there are no penalties to renew an expired permanent resident card and you cannot lose your permanent resident status? If you carry an expired green card, you cannot use it to travel outside the country, get a new job, or renew a driver’s license. This also includes any other activity that requires proof of permanent residence.
Can A Conditional Green Card Be Renewed?
If you are a foreign national married to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, you may have received the two-year conditional green card at first. When this happens, you do not need to file Form I-90 (Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card), which is usually used to renew or replace a green card. You only need to file Form I-751, also known as Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence. This form is usually filed 90 days before the green card expires. Failure to file within the aforementioned period could lead to your deportation from the United States. Basically, you are not applying for a new green card; you are simply removing the restrictions that come with your current conditional green card.
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Different Ways To Renew An Expired Green Card
There are two different ways to file for the renewal of an expired green card: online or by paper. Here is a quick look at the steps to follow in each of the two options.
1. Renew Your Green Card Online
To renew your green card online, head over to the USCIS website, and follow these steps:
Step #1 – Create An Account
The USCIS provides specific steps that should be followed to create an online account on their website.
Step #2 – Submit Documents And Payment
Submit the required evidence, and then process the payment electronically. As of August 2022, the renewal fee is $455 for the form, and $85 for biometrics, making it a total of $540.
Step #3 – Receive Case Status And Updates
You may choose the option to receive updates about your case status. This option lets you view your complete case history for tracking purposes, communicate with USCIS directly and securely, and also respond to requests for additional evidence.
2. Renew Your Expired Green Card By Paper
Alternatively, if the online option is not the best for you, you may chose to renew your expired green card by paper. Here are the green card renewal procedures to follow if you choose this option:
Step #1 – Accessing Form I-90
On the USCIS website, click on Form I-90, also known as Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card (Green Card).
Step #2 – Filing Form I-90
Provide all required information, including supporting documents if applicable. To ensure your application is accepted and avoid unnecessary delays, follow these tips:
- Make sure the form is signed. USCIS will reject and return any unsigned form.
- Download forms only from the USCIS website. This ensures you have the correct and most current version of the form.
- All forms should be completed electronically, and then printed before being mailed to USCIS.
- However, if you decide to write your answers by hand, you may only use black ink, and ensure your entries are readable and within the blanks provided.
- All applicable sections of the form should be filled out. USCIS rejects and returns incomplete applications.
- Avoid using correction fluid, tap or highlighters. If you make a mistake filling out the application, start afresh.
- Make sure your name, date of birth and A-Number is written exactly the same way in each form if you are filing multiple forms.
Because the filing fees may change unexpectedly, it is always advisable to use the Fee Calculator tool available on the USCIS website. Here’s how:
- Access the Fee Calculator Tool online
- Select the form under the drop down menu (Form I-90 in this case)
- Click Submit
- Select your status on the next drop down menu
- Select the reason for application in the next section
- Click Calculate
In the steps above, under Select Your Status, you will see three options if you selected Form 1-190. Below is a summary of each option, and a brief explanation.
Lawful Permanent Resident: This simply means that you are a permanent resident of the United States with a 10-year green card.
Permanent Resident In Commuter Status: This is a special type of green card given to certain residents of Mexico and Canada. It allows them to live in Mexico or Canada while working in the United States, without risking losing their resident status in the United States.
Conditional Permanent Resident: This category, as discussed earlier, is usually meant for individuals who are married to U.S. Citizens or permanent residents.
Tips For Assembling Your Application
Even before you submit your form I-90 application via mail, make sure it is assembled correctly. The following checklist should guide you in the process.
For green card renewal, you must provide a copy of your expired Green Card. USCIS may reject renewal requests that do not contain a copy of the original Permanent Residency Card.
Also, make sure you have proof of payment. This may be in form of a check, money order, or Form G-1450, also known as Authorization for Credit Card Transaction.
If you’d like to be notified via text message or email when USCIS receives your form, you may file Form G-1145, also known as Request for e-Notification.
Make sure you also provide all required supporting documents in copies. Do not submit original documents with your forms, unless USCIS requests you to.
If you have other documents attached to the application, make sure each page bears your name and A-Number. For reference and easy navigation, you may label each page by number. For example, “Page 1 of 15”.
Also, make sure you sign your form; USCIS rejects any unsigned form. This could cause unnecessary delays in your request to renew an expired green card.
Where To Mail Your Form I-90
Once you’ve crosschecked everything and ensured you have all required documents, the next step is mailing your form I-90. To ensure your application is sent to the correct address, only use the addresses provided by the USCIS on their official website. Below are the steps to follow to find the correct mailing address for your green card renewal application.
- Go to the I-90 page of the USCIS website
- Scroll down and then click on the Where To File accordion
- You will see different mailing options: U.S. Postal Service (USPS), FedEx, UPS and DHL
- Choose the most appropriate and convenient mailing option for you
Make sure your physical address is correct and current. If you move out of your current residence, you must update your address with USCIS through the online account you created. Alternatively, you may file form AR-11 (Alien’s Change of Address Card) online or by mail.
What Next After Submitting A Request To Renew Green Card?
After submitting your request to renew your expired green card, you will receive a Form I-797, which notifies you that the USCIS has received your request. As of January 2021, Form I-797 can be used along with an expired green card as evidence of your lawful permanent status for 12 months from the expiration date of your permanent resident card.
You can also use the form I-797, together with your expired permanent resident card, to travel outside the United States. Additionally, it allows you to work legally in the U.S. and can be presented with your expired card as evidence of your eligibility to work in the United States or perform any other duty or activity that requires proof of permanent residency.
If you lose your Form I-797 or you do not receive it, you may request a new one from the USCIS by submitting an inquiry online. You may also contact the USCIS for further guidance if you need help. However, if you have an online account with USCIS, you can simply log in and print a copy of the record.
If you intend to travel outside of the United States and your green card has expired, you must ensure you have a renewed green card or equivalent documentation. When in doubt, always contact USCIS to ensure you are on the right track and cleared to travel.
The process of replacing a permanent resident card can be quite overwhelming, especially if you are doing it for the first time. If you need someone to help you replace your permanent resident card, the best bet is to contact a professional immigration law firm. Contacting a law firm is also a great decision if you need legal advice about your green card, given that every situation is different. For example, if you are involved in anything that could jeopardize your chances of getting a new green card, an immigration attorney should be able to give you much-needed legal advice and guidance.
Common Reasons For Denied Green Card Renewal Requests
First of all, it is quite rare for green card renewal requests to be denied. However, you can never rule out this possibility. Here are the four most common reasons for a denied application for green card renewal.
Applicant Committed A Deportable Crime
If you committed a crime that is considered deportable, your request to renew your green card may be declined. To avoid such a scenario, talk to a qualified immigration attorney prior to renewing your green card.
Applicant Lied On Their Renewal Application
If you knowingly submit wrong information for the purposes of obtaining a new green card, you risk being denied. If you have any concerns before renewing your green card, talk to an attorney.
Applicant Is On Deportation List
If you have been ordered removed from the United States for any reason, your green card renewal application may be declined. Again, to avoid this, consult a lawyer before renewing your green card.
Applicant Used The Wrong Form
This mostly happens to conditional permanent residents. As mentioned earlier, if you are a conditional permanent resident, do not file Form I-90 to renew your expired green card. You should only use this form if your card was lost, stolen, or damaged. To remove the conditions of your conditional permanent resident card, file Form I-751.