How Do Green Card Renewals Work?
Green cards are the most powerful immigration benefit you can receive, but they don’t last forever.
Some are conditional, meaning they last just two years before you must seek an adjustment of status to get those conditions removed. Even “permanent” green cards last just two years. You can renew your green card an unlimited number of times, but you must keep the documentation current.
If you do not handle your green card renewal in a timely fashion you could face consequences. Here’s what you need to know.
Applying for Removal of Conditions
You will need to apply for a removal of conditions 90 days before your green card is set to expire.
If you came in on a family immigration or spousal immigration program you’ll file form I-751 to have your conditions removed. If you are an investor or an entrepreneur then you would need to file form I-829 instead.
Do not assume that these are routine matters that require no help at all from an attorney. For some immigrants, especially those immigrating as the spouses of US Citizens or LPRs, this filing will be one of the most fraught filings they ever face, because it is the last time that USCIS is going to look into your marriage to determine whether or not is a bona fide marriage.
It is vital for you to provide sufficient documentation and to file your paperwork carefully so you give USCIS absolutely no reason to subject your application to any extra scrutiny.
Renewing a Ten-Year Green Card
Renewing a 10-year green card is a lot more routine. You’ll use form I-90 and you may not need an attorney’s help. However, hiring an attorney to help with this form can help provide you with peace of mind.
Follow the instructions on the form carefully and submit it six months before your green card is set to expire. If you send it any earlier then USCIS will reject it out of hand and if you send it any later you risk not getting your new green card in time.
Consequences if Your Green Card Expires
Keep in mind that by law you are required to carry an unexpired green card with you at all times. If you fail to do so you are guilty of a misdemeanor. Any criminal charge can complicate your immigration status, or even lead to deportation.
In addition, it will be illegal for you to work or to obtain professional licenses for certain jobs. It will be impossible for you to obtain credit or to renew your driver’s license. Some employers might choose to overlook the expired green card, but most don’t.
You don’t necessarily lose your LPR status on an expired green card, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t create problems for yourself by failing to handle your renewal in a timely fashion.
What if you don’t see an expiration date on your green card?
Some older green cards do not have expiration dates.
Look at your green card to determine what you need to do. The I-151 green card is invalid and expired and will need to be replaced, and you should get an attorney’s help as these green cards predate the year 1977.
If you have an I-551 version of the green card you technically don’t have to do anything. These green cards do not have to be renewed. However, you can run into problems if you try to leave or re-enter the United States with these green cards. USCIS urges LPRs with these green cards to get them renewed.
Upgrading to Citizenship
Once you upgrade to citizenship you never have to renew a green card again. If you are interested in taking the next step contact our offices: citizenship applications are almost never successful without help from qualified immigration attorneys.
Contact our offices to get help today.
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