How Long Is a Green Card Valid & Why Do I Have to Renew It?
A green card, or permanent resident card, is valid for 10 years and must be renewed before expiration. All permanent residents are required by law to renew their green cards – while failure to renew a green card does not result in losing permanent residency status, all adult permanent residents in the US are required by law to be possession of a valid non-expired green card at all times. This makes green card renewal vital to maintain your legal immigration status. Here are some examples of what kind of problems permanent residents lacking a valid green card may face:
- Finding Employment: Green cards are proof that the individual applying for a job is a legal resident and eligible to work in the U.S.
- Traveling Abroad: An unexpired green card is required to re-enter the U.S. after overseas travel.
- Obtaining or Renewing a Driver’s License: Most States now check for valid green cards before issuing/renewing licenses.
- Applying for Loans/Mortgages: Mortgage providers require proof of permanent residency before considering the applicant for a loan.
What if I have a 2-year Conditional Green Card?
If you have a 2-year conditional green card that will be expiring within 6 months, you must instead submit a Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence. Do not file an application to replace your permanent resident card, unless you have lost or damaged your physical card and require a new card.
What is the Green Card Renewal Process?
The green card renewal must start 6 months before the card’s expiration date. U.S. permanent residents who are currently travelling abroad when their green cards expire should contact their nearest U.S. Consulate or USCIS Office before attempting to renew their green card.
The process starts after you file Form I-90, or Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card, and submit all required supporting documentation proving your status as a lawful U.S. permanent resident. Once your I-90 application is officially filed, you will be scheduled for a biometrics appointment where your fingerprints, photograph and signature will be collected by USCIS officials. The biometric data will be added to your new green card and be used to conduct an FBI background check.
If everything goes as planned, expect to receive your new green card six to eight months after filing. Cards are delivered by USPS Priority Mail service to the address on file with USCIS. Applicants can contact USCIS customer service for the USPS tracking number of their green cards.
Can My Application Be Denied?
There are many instances where a green card renewal application may be denied by USCIS. Here are some of the most common reasons:
- Criminality: While committing any kind of crime is bad for one’s immigration status, certain categories of crime may result in the applicant being placed in removal proceedings. The biometric information collected as part of the I-90 filing is passed on to the FBI, who then conducts a check against their database. If the search shows the applicant was involved in a major crime such as aggravated assault, domestic violence, smuggling, firearms offences or attempted murder, the FBI will flag the application for further review by USCIS officials.
- Incorrect Information: Any errors in the application forms and/or supporting documents that a USCIS official deems to be intentional and not accidental will likely result in a I-90 denial. Whether an error is judged to be a lie or simply a mistake is up to the discretion of a USCIS investigation. It is, therefore, important that the applicant makes sure the application is filled out properly and all the supporting documentation is up-to-date and accurate.
- Removal Order: An applicant who was ordered by a judge to be deported or removed from the U.S. will have his or her I-90 application denied.
- Wrong Form: I-90 applications can only be used to renew or replace a green card. Those with Conditional Resident Status should not use the I-90 form to change their conditional status to regular permanent resident – a different form, I-751, is needed for that. They must, however, use the I-90 form to replace their Conditional Permanent Resident green card (which is valid for 2 years) if it was lost, stolen or damaged.
- Applied Too Early: USCIS requires the I-90 form to be filed within six months of the green card’s expiry. Applications sent before the six-month period are returned and will need to be re-filed in the appropriate time frame. Returned or rejected applications that were filed too early won’t have their filing fees refunded, so it pays to file on time.
- Other Reasons: There are several other reasons why an I-90 filing may be rejected or held up. Legal permanent residents who stay out of the U.S. for six months or more are considered to have ‘abandoned’ their permanent residency status leading to problems when they file for green card renewal. Applicants who owe back taxes will have to resolve their tax issues before USCIS will process their I-90 application. An update of the ‘public charge’ laws in 2019 could mean applicants who have received public benefits could be denied their I-90 application.
If you are unsure on how to proceed with your I-90 application or have any legal questions about your Green Card Renewal or Green Card Replacement, please feel free to Contact Us.