Green card holders must renew their green card every ten years. While this is typically a routine procedure, it can still take some time to complete. Be sure to get started early so that you don’t face any lapse in your green card validity.
Your green card proves your right to permanent residency in the United States. Failure to renew it on time could lead to unwanted consequences. Avoid complications by beginning the renewal process as soon as you get within six months of your current green card’s expiration date.
Why Do You Need a Valid Green Card All the Time?
United States immigration regulations state that all lawful permanent residents aged 18 or older must carry their permanent resident card at all times. Failure to have your green card with you is a misdemeanor offense and can be punishable by a fine or imprisonment. Keeping your green card valid is essential to help avoid this potential charge.
Eligibility to Renew Your Green Card
Before beginning the process, you must ensure you are eligible. In most cases, you will be able to renew your green card if:
- Your current green card expires within six months
- Your current green card was lost, stolen, or damaged
- Your current green card contains incorrect information, whether through a mistake or a change in your personal information.
- You never received the green card mailed to you by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
Renewing your card is typically going to be a formality. However, you may not be able to renew your green card in certain circumstances, such as if you have been convicted of a deportable crime.
When Should You Renew Your Green Card?
It is essential to renew at the right time. Attempting to renew too early could mean an automatic denial of your application with USCIS keeping your renewal fee. Meanwhile, applying too late could leave you with a gap where you don’t have a green card and are subject to difficulties, including a possible misdemeanor conviction.
Inside the U.S.
Once you get to six months until your card expires, it is time to renew. The closer to the six-month mark, the better, as it can take several months to receive your new green card.
Outside the U.S.
If you are outside of the United States when you reach the six-month mark until your green card expires, you should file for renewal as soon as you return to the United States.
However, if you will still be out of the country when your current green card expires, you need to contact your nearest consulate or embassy to inform them of your situation before returning to the U.S. and filing for renewal. If possible, avoid traveling abroad that will conflict with your applying for a new green card on time.
How to Renew the Green Card?
There are four main steps in the USCIS green card renewal process. You must first complete Form I-90, then gather your supporting documents before you pay your green card renewal fee, and finally, file your green card renewal application.
Step 1: Prepare Form I-90
The first action you must take when renewing your permanent resident card is to complete Form I-90: Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card. This form can either be completed online by creating a USCIS online account or on paper and mailed to USCIS.
Step 2: Gather Supporting Documents
After completing your green card renewal form, you must gather all the required supporting documents. When renewing an expired or expiring green card, the only required documentation needed, along with your application, is a copy of your most recent green card.
For other types of green card replacements, USCIS may require additional documents.
Step 3: Pay the Green Card Renewal Fee
The next step to renewing your green card is to pay the renewal fee. The current cost to renew a green card is $455. Sometimes, this will be accompanied by an $85 biometrics fee. If you choose to renew your green card online, you will make your payment online, as well with a credit or debit card.
If you are filing your green card renewal application through the mail, you can pay by money order, personal check, cashier’s check, or with a credit card by filing Form G-1450: Authorization for Credit Card Transactions. Payment must be made payable to the United States Department of Homeland Security.
If you are facing significant financial hardship, you might be eligible to get the fee waived when renewing your green card. However, this can only be done when filing to renew your permanent resident card through the mail.
Step 4: File Your Green Card Renewal Application
Once you have completed all the steps above, it is time to submit your application for green card renewal to USCIS. You should create a cover letter explaining why you are submitting your application to renew your resident card and gather it along with your application, supporting documents, and fees into a single packet.
When submitting your application by mail, you will need to send your packet to the appropriate USCIS address. If filing online, you may be able to upload your supporting documents along with your application. However, USCIS may require you to send these documents separately through the mail.
What Happens After Applying for Renewal
After you submit your permanent resident card renewal application, you will receive a notification of the acceptance of your application by USCIS through the mail. This acceptance notification does not mean that your application has been approved, merely that it has been accepted by USCIS for review.
The letter from USCIS will include a 13-character receipt number. You will be able to use this number to check the status of your green card renewal application. You will also be able to access this information on your online account. USCIS will create an account for you and provide access details in this letter if you have not already created an account yourself.
USCIS will also send you a notification of a scheduled biometrics appointment where you will be fingerprinted, photographed, and provide your signature. They may also request additional supporting documents beyond what you previously provided.
Green Card Renewal Processing Time
The full processing time from applying for a renewal of your green card to the issuance of your new permanent green card can take anywhere from six to 10 months. You will likely wait for one to three weeks to receive the notification of your application being accepted by USCIS.
It can then take another one to three weeks to receive notice of your biometrics appointment. Then, your biometrics appointment will likely take place about two weeks after you receive your notice. After your biometrics appointment, you will have to wait months for USCIS to finish processing your application and issue your new green card.
Is It Possible to Expedite the Green Card Renewal Process?
Potentially. In certain circumstances, USCIS does offer expedited processing of a green card renewal application. Decisions on expediting an application are made on a case-by-case basis and are entirely at the discretion of USCIS.
USCIS may agree to expedite your application in cases involving:
- An emergency situation
- Severe financial loss
- Humanitarian reason
- An error by USCIS
How to Check the Status of Your Green Card Renewal Application
You can track the status of your permanent residency renewal application by entering your receipt number on the USCIS “Check Status” page. This page will display the entire history of your application.
You can also be notified of the acceptance of your application form through text message or email by completing Form G-1145: e-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance and submitting it along with your green card application.
What to Do if Your Renewal Application Is Denied
In the majority of green card renewal applications, you will not need to worry about your renewal being denied. A green card renewal is typically a formality. However, if you have committed certain crimes, failed to pay your taxes, lied on your application, or submitted the incorrect form, USCIS may deny your application.
If your application gets denied, you will receive a letter explaining the decision. If you think the decision to deny your application was made in error, you have options. You can submit a motion to USCIS to reconsider the decision, including factual information that refutes the reasons given for the denial.
You can also choose to seek legal assistance from an experienced immigration lawyer or nonprofit organization that provides legal immigration services for free or at a low cost. USCIS will either reach a decision about your appeal within about 45 days or turn the case over to the Administrative Appeals Office for further review, which can take up to six months.
Check out these frequently asked questions about the green card renewal process.
How Many Times Can You Renew Your Green Card?
You can renew your green card as many times as you need. There is no limit to how long you can have permanent resident status. You can keep renewing your green card for the rest of your life, until you move out of the United States, or until you apply for United States Citizenship.
How Do You Waive the Green Card Renewal Fee?
If you face significant financial hardship, you can fill out Form I-912: Request for Fee Waiver to request that the fee for filing Form I-90 be waived. You must prove your inability to pay the application fee in one of the following ways:
1. Show evidence that you receive a “means-tested benefit,” such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Supplemental Security Income, or Temporary Assistance to Needy Families
2. Show evidence that your household income is equal to or less than 150% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines
3. Show that you are experiencing financial hardship, which can include being unemployed, homeless, or facing significant medical expenses
What if My Green Card Expires While Waiting for Citizenship?
If your green card expires while you are waiting for citizenship, USCIS may provide you with an Alien Documentation, Identification, and Telecommunications (ADIT) stamp to prove your status as a green card holder until your citizenship is granted. However, you will only receive this stamp if you applied for citizenship at least six months before your green card expires.
If applying for U.S. citizenship within six months of your green card expiration, you must apply to renew your green card. While it is sometimes possible to get your citizenship with an expired green card, it could create unnecessary obstacles for you.
Can I Travel While My Green Card Is Being Renewed?
You can travel outside the U.S. while waiting for your green card renewal application to be processed.
Even if your current green card has expired, you should be able to travel outside of the country without having to worry about whether or not you will be able to easily re-enter as long as you have your expired green card and your notice from USCIS of the receipt of your application.
Am I Able to Work With an Expired Green Card?
Your green card does not grant you the right to permanent residence. Instead, it merely serves as proof that you have permanent resident status. You can continue to work in the United States legally, even if your green card expires.
However, you could face other complications, like being charged with a misdemeanor for not having a valid green card with you. A misdemeanor charge could mean jail time or a fine and could certainly complicate your work situation.
File Your Green Card Renewal Application Today
The best way to avoid any complications with your green card application renewal is to file a renewal application as soon as you reach the six-month mark until your current card expires. At ImmigrationDirect, we can help ensure that your application gets filed correctly and avoid any unnecessary delays in the renewal process.