You will be issued a Green Card if you have legal permanent resident status in the U.S. This is a photo identity card that is issued as proof of your legal status. Though the legal permanent resident status does not come with an expiration date, this card comes with one. A permanent resident card is not valid for more than ten years. You will have to apply to renew this card after that time has passed.
What Happens if Your Green Card Expires?
You will still continue to be a legal resident even after your Green Card expires. However, this does not mean that you can do away with the Green Card renewal process. The renewal process is mandatory, and it is not optional.
Those with Green Cards that are set to expire within the next six months are typically able to start the renewal process. Green Cards serve as proof of your legal status. If you happen to let it expire you may have trouble proving your status for a job in the U.S., applying for a driver’s license or applying for other public benefits. Likewise, if you are abroad and your card expired when you were out of the country, you may not be permitted to re-enter the U.S. This is because an expired Green Card is an invalid card.
Green Card Renewal
Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card, is the form required by the USCIS for renewal of a green card. If your card has expired already or is expiring in the next six months, you can apply for renewal with Form I-90. This form is available for online filing with the USCIS or you can also file the paper form via mail. Check out this article, on filing your renewal application.
Common Problems You Might Face if You Hold an Expired Green Card
You may not be allowed to fly if you hold an expired Green Card. Many airlines refuse to board passengers who do not hold a valid Green Card. Before boarding, airlines are required to check the passengers’ proof of legal residency. You must also hold a valid passport along with your resident card for a hassle-free abroad trip. Remember, you may be allowed to buy a ticket but may not be allowed to fly if you do not have a valid Green Card.
Similarly, you will have to provide a valid proof of your legal status when you re-enter the United States. U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) officers may not allow you to get into the country if your card is expired. You may experience a long delay and may be required to pay a re-entry fee or even be refused entry into the U.S.
To avoid this, make sure that you have a valid Green Card. If your card is expired or about to expire, you can file Form I-90 to get it renewed. Once your application is accepted, you will receive Form I-797, Notice of Action. You can use this notice to prove that your renewal application is in progress. Many airlines accept this document as proof of legal residency, but you should always call and confirm beforehand.
Once you receive your application receipt notice, you can schedule an appointment with a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office to get a I-551 stamp in your passport. This stamp indicates you are a legal permanent resident. The stamp is usually valid for a year from the date of the stamp, ask the USCIS official to confirm. Passports with temporary I-551 stamps will be accepted by CBP officials as proof of permanent residency.
According to the USCIS, if your card expires when you are in a foreign country, you can visit the nearest U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consulate to file Form I-131A, Application for Travel Document. This is also known as Carrier Documentation. This document will help you re-enter the U.S. However, this is possible only if you have been abroad for less than a year.
Getting a Job
U.S. employers will require you to present a valid Green Card when you apply for a job. You will be asked to complete Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, with the employer when you start a new job. This form is used to make sure that you have permission to work in the U.S. and to verify your identity. Along with this form, you must submit your valid Green Card. If your card is invalid, you may not be able to start your new job.
If you have already filed for Green Card renewal, you can get the temporary I-551 stamp on your passport to prove your legal residency in the U.S. This will help you prove that you are a legal resident and that you are authorized to work in the U.S.
If you wish to buy a house in the U.S., you can get a home mortgage. However, you will almost certainly be asked for a proof of your legal status by the potential lender before they give you a mortgage.
Your green card must be valid to get approved for a loan. You may not be given a loan if you present an invalid Green Card. If your card is invalid, you can file for renewal as soon as you realize that it is expired. You can then get the I-551 stamp on your passport and present that to the lender as proof of legal residency. However, not all lenders will accept this as proof of your legal status.
Rules for driver’s licenses are not the same across all American states. Most of the American states will require people applying to renew their driver’s licenses to provide proof of legal residency. If your Green Card is expired, you may not be able to renew your driver’s license. Contact your local Department of Motor Vehicles and ask if they accept your passport with the I-551 stamp as proof of your legal status for a driver’s license renewal.
Applying for Citizenship with an Expired Green Card
An expired Green Card may not prevent you from applying for U.S. citizenship. However, as a legal resident, you are required to hold a valid Green Card. You will be required to present a copy of your permanent resident card when you apply for naturalization. You may also be asked to present your card during your naturalization interview. It is up to the immigration officer’s discretion if they allow the process to continue with your card being expired.
If your card is valid and if it will not expire in the next six months, you may not have to apply for Green Card renewal before filing an application for citizenship. If your card has already expired or will expire in the next few months, it may be a good idea to start the renewal process before you apply for citizenship in the U.S. After you file your renewal application, you may then apply for citizenship once you get your I-90 application receipt notice.
US-immigration.com is not affiliated with the USCIS but provides general information on commonly encountered immigration matters. We provide self-help support for U.S. citizenship, Green Card renewal, work permit application and other popular immigration forms. With our service, you can prepare your Green Card renewal form online using our do-it-yourself software. Our application form package includes all the forms you will need to submit to the USCIS for processing along with customized filing instructions to help you properly file your Green Card renewal application with the USCIS.