Expired Green Card Issues that Can Happen

Expired Green Card Issues that Can HappenFor permanent residents of the United States, it’s important to keep their green cards current. By law, permanent residents must always have a valid green card. However, it is far from uncommon for a green card holder to delay before renewing it.

Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card, is the proper form to file for renewal of a green card. Approximately two to three weeks after filing this form, a green card holder will receive a Notice of Action, I-797, that verifies that the renewal process is taking place.

An expired green card is not sufficient to cause a loss of permanent resident status. There is no penalty or fine for renewing a green card late. However, carrying an expired green card can lead to other issues or concerns.

Traveling and Re-entering the U.S.

In some cases, airlines will not board passengers with an expired green card, although some may accept a verified I-787 notice that a renewal is being processed. When re-entering the United States after travel, it is important to present proof of legal status. An expired green card is not sufficient proof of valid lawful permanent resident status.

If a permanent resident’s green card expires before leaving the U.S. to travel internationally and without sufficient time to renew, an I-551 stamp in a foreign passport that verifies permanent residency can be used instead. This stamp serves as one-year temporary proof of permanent residency. It can be obtained by scheduling an appointment with a local USCIS office through InfoPass.

If a permanent resident is outside the U.S. and realizes they will not have a valid green card for re-entry, they can go to the nearest U.S. consulate to file Form I-131A, the Application for Travel Document. This form allows the green card holder to request a boarding foil or a transportation letter. This document will allow the permanent resident to re-enter the United States if they have been outside the country for less than a year.

Renewing a Driver’s License – Having a valid green card can be an important proof of legal status, which is required in most states when renewing a driver’s license. However, a permanent resident may be able to use an I-551 stamp in their passport to renew their license.

Starting a New Job – When starting a new job, people must generally complete a Form I-9, which verifies identity and legal status in the United States. In general, employers will not accept an expired green card, but they will accept an I-551 passport stamp.
Buying a Home – A permanent resident will need to show proof of legal status to obtain a mortgage, and an expired green card is not sufficient proof. However, again, an I-551 passport stamp may be accepted by many mortgage lenders.