Obtaining a green card, also known as a Permanent Resident Card, identifies you as a lawful resident, allowing you to live and work in the United States. Green cards are valid for 10 years, at which time you have the option of renewing your card. We highly recommend that you apply for naturalization (citizenship) for many reasons.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issues green cards, along with many other immigration visas, and processes hundreds of thousands of applications each year. Given the amount of initial and renewal immigration applications USCIS receives each year, there is a consistent backlog and significant waiting times. You can apply to renew your green card as early as six months before the expiration date.
What Can Happen if My Green Card is Expired?
Having permanent lawful resident status allows you to live and work in the United States and your green card is proof of that status. If your green card expires, however, functioning day-to-day on an expired card can present many problems for you, such as:
- Employment: An expired green card can prevent you from obtaining a job. Employers are required to file certain government forms for all employees upon hiring that verify their identity and eligibility to work. Lawful permanent residents must supply an active green card as verification. If your card is expired, you can present a valid foreign passport with an I-551 stamp. However, if your passport does not contain the stamp, it can take weeks to acquire one, and your employer may not be willing to wait in order to fill the position.
- Professional license: If you are employed in an occupation that requires additional professional licenses, such as the healthcare, legal, or commercial driving fields, you could lose your job if your green card expires. Most states require an active green card as a requirement to receive professional licenses.
- Travel: If you have traveled outside the United States, an expired green card can cause significant problems for you when trying to return. You are required to present valid identification to immigration officials upon your return to the United States.
How Do I Renew My Green Card?
The United States government receives millions of applications for various immigration statuses, controlled by USCIS. As such, the wait times for nearly all immigration applications is long, so it is important that you apply for a green card renewal well before it expires. To apply for renewal, you must:
- Apply: In order to renew your card, you will need to apply for a renewal application, the “Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card,” (Form I-90) either online or through the mail. If applying by mail, you must include a copy of your current green card.
- Notification: If USCIS approves your application, they will notify you by mail and online, and provide you with a receipt number you can use online to check the status of your renewal.
- Biometrics appointment: USCIS will also provide you with a scheduled date and time for your required biometric appointment, typically within two weeks from the date of your acceptance letter. You will also be given a deadline to respond about your attendance for this appointment.
Generally, the green card renewal process is straightforward and simple. There are certain situations that can cause USCIS to deny your application, such as having been convicted of certain crimes, failure to pay income taxes, or false statements on your application.
The long application wait times may still result in your green card expiring before you receive a renewal. To help avoid this situation, it is best to work with an immigration attorney well in advance of your card’s expiration date.
Philadelphia Immigration Lawyers at Surin & Griffin, P.C. Assist Clients Applying for Green Card Renewal
The experienced Philadelphia immigration lawyers at Surin & Griffin, P.C. will help you through the renewal process to ensure you maintain your rights as a lawful permanent resident. Call us today at 215-925-4435 or contact us online for an initial consultation. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and nationwide.