A green card, also known as a Permanent Resident Card, is a legal document that an immigrant must obtain to verify their status as either a lawful permanent resident or a conditional permanent resident of the United States.
A person who holds a green card and has an immigration status that has been adjusted to a lawful permanent resident is legally authorized to live and work in the United States. A green card also serves as proof that a person has properly complied with the U.S. immigration process and the country’s various immigration laws.
On the other hand, a person who only holds a visa and whose status is that of a conditional permanent resident will only be allowed to temporarily live in the United States for a specific period of time. That person must also have a particular reason as to why they are living in the country, such as if they are a student attending a U.S. college or working for a company in a specific job role.
In addition, a person whose status is that of a conditional permanent resident will only have up to two years to become a permanent resident. If they do not achieve permanent resident status by applying for a green card within the two-year time frame or before their visa expires, then they will need to leave the country until they are permitted to return and re-start the process all over again.
Finally, while both permanent residents and conditional permanent residents must renew their green card status, a lawful permanent resident will have up to ten years until their green card expires. It should also be noted that the requirements for the renewal process will differ, depending on whether a person is considered a lawful permanent resident or a conditional permanent resident (i.e., their immigration status).
When Do I Need to Renew My Green Card?
The time frame for when a person needs to renew their green card will largely depend on both their immigration status as well as their circumstances.
For example, some green cards do not have expiration dates. In which case, a green card without an expiration date will not expire for another ten years unless the green card holder violates U.S. immigration law or voluntarily renounces their lawful permanent resident status.
Again, the physical green card itself is simply a way to offer proof of one’s lawful permanent resident status as well as their right to live and work in the United States. Those who hold green cards that are soon expiring should submit a request to renew their green card within six months prior to its expiration date.
On the other hand, there are some green cards that do have an expiration date. For instance, those who have been granted conditional permanent resident status or a visa will only have two years until their card expires.
A person whose green card or visa is only valid for up to two years should file a Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence (i.e., Form I-751) or a Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status (i.e., Form I-829) 90 days before their green card is set to expire. If a person is then approved for a status adjustment, then they will receive a standard green card, which expires in ten years.
It is important to always remember to renew a green card or visa before it expires. A person who is caught holding an expired green card may face harsh legal consequences, such as losing their right to live and work permanently in the United States.
What Form Do I Need to Submit to Renew My Green Card?
As discussed above, the form and requirements that a person must follow will depend on their immigration status as well as their individual circumstances. In general, those who are lawful permanent residents and hold a green card that is set to expire within the next six months will need to file an Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card (i.e., Form I-90). This is the same form that is used to replace one’s green card if it gets lost or destroyed.
Form I-90 is also the same form that is used when a person legally changes their name, such as if they get married and adopt their spouse’s last name. However, if a person does not have lawful permanent resident status, then they must use a different form to renew or replace their green card.
In contrast, a person who is considered a conditional permanent resident and has a green card or visa that is only valid for up to two years, must submit an application to remove the conditions on their green card. Again, the petition to remove conditions on a green card must be filed within 90 days before it is set to expire. This can be done by filing one of the following two forms:
- A Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence (i.e., Form I-751); or
- A Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status (i.e., Form I-829).
Form I-751 is typically used to remove conditions on a green card that is obtained through marriage or a close family member like a parent. On the other hand, Form I-829 should be submitted if a person is seeking to remove conditions on a green card that was obtained through a financial investment in a U.S. business.
How Much Does Renewal Cost?
The cost to renew or replace a green card will also depend on a person’s specific circumstances and their immigration status. As of February 2021, the fee to file an application to renew or replace a permanent resident card (i.e., Form I-90) will cost $455. Again, contingent on one’s circumstances, this may include an additional biometrics fee of $85. In other words, the total cost to file and process Form I-90 could amount to $540.
If a person is seeking to remove the conditions on their green card as a family member or through marriage and will be filing Form I-751, the application itself will cost $595. In addition, a biometrics fee of $85 will be required from each petitioner and any family members named in the petition.
Lastly, a person who is seeking to remove the conditions on their green card as an entrepreneur or a financial investor in a U.S. business and is filing Form I-829, will need to pay $3,750 for just the application. A biometric services fee of $85 will also be required from a petitioner and any family members included in the petition and who are between the ages of 14 to 79 years of age.
What are the Consequences of Failing to Renew My Green Card?
Both lawful permanent residents and conditional permanent residents must carry a valid green card or visa with them at all times. A person who is caught without a green card or visa or who holds documentation that is expired can face very serious legal consequences, such as criminal fines and possible jail time. In fact, if it is discovered that a person’s immigration status has expired, they can be charged with a misdemeanor offense.
Although the repercussions will be less severe if it is just a green card that has expired and not the person’s immigration status, knowingly carrying expired documentation is still considered to be a violation of U.S. immigration laws. Consequently, it may result in certain difficulties, such as being prohibited from obtaining employment, applying for housing, or traveling outside of the country. Thus, it is important to remember to renew all documentation on time.
Should I Hire an Immigration Attorney?
Not every immigration issue will require the assistance of an immigration attorney. However, if you do not understand the requirements for renewing or replacing a green card, then it may be in your best interest to consult a local immigration attorney for further guidance.
An experienced immigration attorney will be able to help you with the process and can make sure that you timely file all of the necessary forms. Additionally, your lawyer can also provide legal representation in court if you have been charged for violating any U.S. immigration laws.