A Permanent Resident Card, commonly known as a Green Card, is an official proof of your legal permanent resident status in the U.S. You should have this wallet-sized plastic card with you at all times as this document will help you prove that you are a legal resident of the U.S. Be sure to keep this document safe as you might have trouble proving that you are a legal resident if you lose it.
This card is primarily used to prove your legal status in the U.S. You will also need this document to travel within the country and abroad. You will need to present a valid Green Card when you return to the U.S. from your trip abroad.
What is Permanent Resident Card Renewal?
Permanent Resident Cards are generally issued with a ten-year validity. Green Cards valid for two years are also issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to conditional residents. The Green Card renewal process applies only to ten-year Green Card holders and not to the conditional residents. The two-year conditional cards cannot be renewed. Conditional card holders will need to apply to remove conditions on their status when their cards are about to expire.
If you hold a ten-year card, you will need to apply to renew your card before it expires. You will have to prepare and file Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card to renew your card. You cannot file this form more than six months before the date of expiration of your Green Card. You can start the renewal process as soon as your Green Card expiration date is less than six months away. An expired Permanent Resident Card can also be renewed. However, since the law requires legal residents to hold a valid Green Card at all times, it is important to apply for renewal before the card expires.
Holding a valid Permanent Resident card is important because it shows eligibility for employment in the U.S. and allows you to travel without having difficulties proving your status.
You can renew your expiring resident card on Form I-90. Once you file this form with the USCIS, you will receive a Form I-797, or Notice of Action. On average, these notices are sent around two to three weeks from the date of filing.
Permanent Resident Card Renewal Fee
As of July 2018, the fee to renew a Permanent Resident Card is $540, which is a total of the $455 form filing fee and the $85 biometrics services fee.
Form I-90 is eligible for a fee waiver. If you cannot afford the form filing fee, you can apply for a fee waiver on Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver.
How to File for Permanent Resident Card Renewal?
To apply for renewal of a Permanent Resident Card, the USCIS requires Form I-90 to be submitted. You can file this form online with the USCIS or file the paper form by mail. Our service allows you to prepare your application online using our do-it-yourself software.
You can visit the USCIS e-filing page and create an account to file your Form I-90 online. Remember, you cannot file the form online if you are applying for a fee waiver.
Make sure you do not submit an incomplete application or misrepresent important information on your Form I-90. This could delay the processing of your application or even lead to rejection.
If you file the paper form, you can send the completed form along with the supporting documents and fees to the following address.
For U.S. Postal Service (USPS)
P.O. Box 21262
Phoenix, AZ 85036
For FedEx, UPS, and DHL deliveries
1820 E. Skyharbor, Circle S, Floor 1
Phoenix, AZ 85034
Form I-90 Supporting Documents
You will need to file the renewal application along with certain supporting documents. If you fail to submit the supporting documents required, your application will not be processed. The I-90 form filing instructions will detail the list of documents you will need to submit with your application.
If you believe you need help completing the Green Card renewal application, you can use our online preparation service to complete the form online. US-Immigration’s Green Card Renewal Application Form Package includes all the forms you need to send to the USCIS for processing. The customized form filing instructions will tell you exactly how to properly file your application with the USCIS.
After Filing Form I-90
You should receive Form I-797C, Notice of Action in around 2 – 3 weeks from the date you file your renewal application. The time in which you receive Form I-797 could be more or less. Form I-797C is a receipt letter. This letter can also be used as proof that you have filed your renewal application. This letter will have the receipt number you can use to check your application status online.
An appointment to capture your biometrics information is usually sent out in about 3-5 weeks after filing your application. At this appointment, your fingerprints and photo will be collected. Take your appointment letter with you to your appointment along with some form of photo identification. Make sure to read the letter you receive from the USCIS for information on the other documents you will have to take to the appointment.
Receive Your New Permanent Resident Card
As of July 2018, you are likely to receive your new Permanent Resident Card in around 7.5 – 9.5 months. This does not apply all the renewal applications because the processing time could be longer for applications filed with errors. Processing times also vary based on the workload of the USCIS service center that is processing your application.
What if Your Permanent Resident Card Expires?
You will need this card to prove your eligibility to work in the U.S. You will have to file Form I-9 when you apply for a new job in the country. To establish your identity and employment eligibility, you will need to submit your valid resident card along with Form I-9. An expired card will not be accepted.
You won’t be allowed to board a flight if you do not present a valid Green Card. While returning to the U.S. from abroad, Customs and Border Protection officials will require you to provide proof of permanent residency. If you present an expired Green Card, you may be required to pay hefty re-entry fees or you can even be denied entry to the country.
When applying to renew your driver’s license, you may be required to submit proof of your legal residency. An expired Permanent Resident Card will not be accepted. You may not be able to get your driver’s license renewed, which in turn will affect your driving privileges.
If you try to get a mortgage to buy a house in the U.S., you will need your Green Card. Lenders will not accept your expired card as proof. An expired card will make it difficult for you to buy property in the U.S.
Though an expired Green Card will not lead to the expiration of your resident status, you are required by the law to hold a valid card. Section 264 (e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act reads, “Every alien, eighteen years of age and over, shall at all times carry with him and have in his personal possession any certificate of alien registration or alien registration receipt card issued to him pursuant to subsection (d). Any alien who fails to comply with the provisions of this subsection shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall upon conviction for each offense be fined not to exceed $100 or be imprisoned not more than thirty days, or both.”
Permanent Resident Card Renewal or U.S. Citizenship
If you do not want the hassle of renewing your Green Card every ten years, you can apply for U.S. Citizenship. Though permanent resident status is permanent, it does not confer all the rights and protections conferred by citizenship status. If you obtain citizenship status, you will not have to worry about renewing your Green Card every ten years. You can travel with your U.S. passport and also won’t have to worry if you stay abroad for an extended time period.
The fee to apply for U.S. citizenship is $640. You may be required to pay an additional $85 biometric services fee. Read more about U.S. citizenship.