Green Card Renewal Lawyers
What is a Green Card?
A Green Card is a document verifying your status as a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR). Lawful permanent resident status gives a person the right to live and work permanently in the U.S. The green card (USCIS Form I-551) also serves as proof of registration under immigration laws, much like an identification card. Green cards are usually valid for a maximum period of 10 years, and should be renewed within 6 months of expiration.
While green cards do have expiration dates, a person’s Lawful Permanent Resident status does not expire unless the person violates immigration laws or voluntarily renounces LPR status. The actual, physical green card simply provides documentation and proof of your lawful permanent resident status. However, carrying an expired green card will make it difficult to prove your LPR status, and could affect your ability to enjoy the rights associated with LPR status.
Which Form do I Fill Out to Renew my Green Card?
Lawful permanent residents whose green cards have expired or will expire in the next 6 months should renew their green cards by filing USCIS Form I-90. You may also request to change your name on your new card when you file your renewal application (if it has been legally changed). You can download the form here or you can call the Forms Request Line at 1-800-870-3676 to request one. You can also request a form and file a form online.
If you have recently been married and changed your name, you would need to submit a “Green Card Name Change” form. Also, if your personal information has been changed, you will need to submit a “Green Card Update” form.
When do I need to File the Green Card Renewal Form?
You should file Form I-90 to renew your green card under the following circumstances:
- If you are an LPR and your green card will be expiring within the next six months. However, a renewal application cannot be submitted more than six months in advance
- If your green card has already expired, you should file the renewal form immediately
- If you have an older version of a green card, you should file for renewal. While it is not required to renew the older versions, it is strongly recommended that you renew your card, as the older versions sometimes do not have expiration dates on them
Understand that there is a fundamental difference between green card renewal and green card replacement. You only need to renew your green card during the times when any of the above circumstances apply. However, you should file for a replacement immediately if your green card has been lost, stolen, or destroyed.
What if I am under “Conditional Permanent Resident” Status?
Green cards for Conditional Permanent Residents (CPR) are valid for only 2 years. You should not use Form I-90 if your CPR green card is expiring. Instead, conditional permanent residents must file a “Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence”. Once the conditions are removed, the person will be considered a Lawful Permanent Resident.
If the conditional status is based on marriage, you should file Form I-751. If it is based on being an investor, you need to file Form I-829. The petition should be filed within 90 days of the expiration date for your lawful permanent resident green card.
What if I don’t Renew my Green Card? What are the Legal Consequences?
Section 264 of the Immigration and Nationality Act requires every alien 18 years and older to carry a valid certificate of registration (such as a green card) with them at all times. Failure to comply with these requirements will result in criminal misdemeanor charges. Misdemeanors are punishable by fees and possible time in jail.
Thus, even if you have your green card on you, if it is expired, you will be in violation of immigration laws. It can also make it more difficult to perform other activities such as traveling outside the U.S., obtaining employment, or applying for housing.
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Last Modified: 03-12-2013 04:41 PM PDT
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