Green cards are proof of your permanent residency, but that does not mean that they are permanent. In fact, all green cards have an expiration date and it is important for you to know the date on your card and to apply for green card renewal well in advance of this date. It can take some time to renew an expired green card or an almost-expired green card, so allow yourself plenty of time to apply. In general, allow yourself at least six months before your card expires. If you carry an expired green card, you could be charged with a misdemeanor and you may not be able to re-enter the US, so green card renewal is very important for all green card holders.
There are several steps you must take in order to renew your green card:
1) Determine the form you need. In most cases, you will need US immigration Form I-90 (Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card). This form is used to renew your green card and can also be used to replace a green card that has been stolen, lost, or damaged. If you have received permanent residency and your green card because you married a US citizen, however, you may need to fill out Form I-751 Petition to Remove the Conditions on Residence), instead. You can find the form you need and read more about these forms at USCIS.gov, the official USCIS website.
2) Complete the forms fully. Read the instructions for Form I-90 or Form I-751 very carefully. Complete the correct form to the best of your knowledge and submit it as instructed with the correct filing fee. If something has happened since you received your green card which may affect your ability to apply for green card renewal – for example, if you have been convicted of a serious crime – you may wish to speak with a qualified US immigration attorney to get advice before submitting your forms for green card renewal to the USCIS. An attorney can advise you based on your specific situation.
3) Get a temporary card if you need to. If your green card will expire or is likely to expire before your new card is mailed, visit an USCIS office to get a temporary card. This is a temporary form of documentation that will help you prove your legal status in the US until your official green card arrives in the mail.