Although a green card is proof of permanent residency, a green card itself is not permanent. Each green card has a green card expiration date, usually 10 years from the date that the card was issued. This is confusing for some people, but the green card expiration date was introduced in 1989 as a measure to protect Americans against counterfeiting and fraud involving green cards. Since green cards now have to be renewed every 10 years, there is more of a chance to catch any criminals who are using stolen or counterfeit green cards.
Is important to note that while your residency is generally permanent, your green card is not. This means that by not renewing your green card, you will not lose your permanent residency status. However, you may have a difficult time reentering the United States if you travel and you may have a hard time getting employment and benefits ensured by your green card. As well, you are required by law to carry your green card with you in order to prove your status. If you do not have a green card that is up-to-date, you may be charged with a misdemeanor, so it is important to keep an updated and current green card with you at all times. It’s important to check your green card to make sure that it is not expired. Your green card expiration date is generally clearly printed on the front of your green card. Keep a note of when it expires. It is easy to forget to renew every ten years because sometimes that green card expiration date does rather sneak up on you.
If a card is close to expiration, green card holders have options for renewing their green cards. To replace your green card, submit a complete USCIS Form I-90 (Application to Replace a Permanent Resident Card) six months before your green card expiration date. Your new green card will usually be mailed to you so that you have new documents to prove your status in the United States.
You will also be provided with temporary documents that proves your permanent presidency while waiting for your green card to arrive in the mail. To get temporary proof of your green card status, the USCIS will usually need your current passport and offer you Form I-94 with photograph as proof of your residency.
If your green card has already expired, there are no penalties for applying for a new green card. If your green card is past its green card expiration date, it is in fact important to apply for a renewal of your green card immediately so that you get a new green card in the mail as well as temporary proof of your status immediately.