A Green Card is a Permanent Residence Card verifying your status as either a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) or a Conditional Permanent Resident (CPR). If an immigrant has Lawful Permanent Residency, the green card shows that the person is allowed to work and live in the United States.
It also serves as proof of your registration pursuant to immigration laws. It differs from a Visa which allows someone to temporarily reside in the United States for a specific time and purpose. With a LPR green card, you become a permanent resident of the United States. A CPR green card gives the person 2 years in order to obtain permanent resident status.
It’s important to note that some green cards don’t have expiration dates. A person’s Lawful Permanent Resident status doesn’t expire unless the person violates immigration laws or voluntary renounced LPR status. The green card itself simply provides the physical proof of one’s lawful permanent resident status.
Nevertheless, some green cards do contain an expiration date. For instance, an individual with conditional permanent resident status is given a green card that is valid only for 2 years. When the green card is within 90 days of expiring, the individual can apply for permanent resident status. One must file a petition to remove the conditions of her conditional permanent resident status in order to upgrade to permanent resident status. Permanent resident status cards typically expire after ten years.
If you are caught carrying an expired green card, it is difficult to prove your status and it could infringe on your right to live and work permanently in the United States.
Lawful permanent residents whose green card is about to expire within six months will want to renew their green card. You can do this by filling out United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Form 1-90, the “Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card.” Note that this is the same form people fill out if they lose, destroy, or legally change your name.
If you have a two-year conditional permanent resident card, you will need to petition to remove your conditions. You must file your petition within 90 days of your card’s anticipated expiration. If you have conditional status as a family member or spouse, submit Form I-751, which removes conditions on residence. Finally, if you received conditional status as an investor or entrepreneur, fill out form I-829.
As of November 2017, filing fees for Form I-90 to renew your LPR green card costs $450. A biometric services fee of $85 may also be required.
If you have conditional status as a family member or spouse of a lawful resident and you need to fill out form I-751, the filing fee is $595. A biometric services fee is also required, which costs $85.
It costs the most for investors and entrepreneurs to submit I-829. The application is $3,750 and the biometric fee is an additional $85. It is often performed by immigration attorneys.
Pursuant to Section 264 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, every alien who is 18 years or older must carry valid certificate registration, like a green card, at all times. If you are caught without your green card, you may be fined or even charged with a misdemeanor. Misdemeanors are punishable by fees and possible jail time.
Even if you have your green card on you, if it’s expired, you are violating immigration laws. As a result, it may be more difficult for you to perform other activities that you enjoy with permanent or conditional status, such as traveling outside the United States, obtaining employment, or applying for housing.
If you need to renew your green card, you may wish to consult an immigration attorney. Your attorney can guide you through the process and ensure that you are timely filling out all necessary forms. If you violate any immigration laws, your lawyer can help represent you in court and resolve the violations.