Permanent Resident Cards have expiration dates. Permanent residents whose Green Card will expire must file either
- Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card. Permanent residents use this form to renew a standard, 10-year Green Card up to six months before their card expires.
- Form I-751, Petition to Remove the Conditions on Permanent Residence. Conditional permanent residents who gained their status through marriage use this form to convert their two-year conditional permanent resident status to a regular, 10-year Green Card up to 90 days before their conditional card expires.
Green Card Renewal Statistics
While most Green Card renewal applications gain approval, USCIS regularly denies a portion of them due to a number of common reasons. For example, in the first three quarters of 2017, USCIS
- approved about 374,000 Form I-90s while denying around 20,000
- approved about 68,000 Form I-751s while denying around 5,000.
Green Card Renewal Denial Reasons
USCIS receives hundreds of thousands of applications for Green Card renewals monthly. Many of the reasons why USCIS denies Green Card renewal applications are similar to the reasons why many other applications are denied.
- Submitting an Incorrect Form. Conditional permanent residents who gained their Green Card through marriage do not file Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card. Instead, spouses must file Form I-751, Petition to Remove the Conditions on Permanent Residence. Using the incorrect form will result in an automatic denial.
- Being Ineligible To File. Each USCIS form lists in the instructions who is eligible to apply using that specific form. For example, Form I-90 offers a list of a dozen check boxes where applicants must choose the reason why they are applying for a new Green Card. Three examples demonstrate that these reasons can vary considerably:
- “My existing card has already expired or will expire within six months.”
- “My previous card has been lost, stolen, or destroyed.”
- “I have reached my 14th birthday and am registering as required.”
Similarly, Form I-751 specifically lists the conditions that applicants must fulfill in order to apply.
- Filing in an Improper Time Frame. USCIS specifies a certain time frame when applicants are to submit renewal forms. For Form I-90, permanent residents can submit their renewal application up to six months before their Green Card is due to expire. Conditional permanent residents applying to remove conditions can file 90 days before their conditional Green Card is due to expire but no sooner. Failing to apply within the indicated time frame can also result in a denial or a loss of permanent resident status.
- Providing Inaccurate or Incomplete Information. USCIS views “willful misrepresentation” as a basis for inadmissibility, or denial of an application. Any error, omission or inaccurate information provided with the intent of gaining an immigration benefit can result in a denial. All information submitted on a renewal form must be complete and accurate. This includes any additional USCIS requests for supporting evidence. Failing to submit the additional requested materials can result in a denial.
- Engaging in Risky or Criminal Activities. Both Form I-90 and Form I-751 require that applicants report for a biometrics appointment. This means that USCIS will take those applicants’ fingerprints and execute a background check to determine if an applicant has been involved in any criminal activities. Any indication that an applicant is not of “good moral character (GMC)” can result in a denial. This includes any arrests as well as any “criminal, unlawful, or questionable activity in which the applicant has ever engaged.”
- Failing To Meet Residency Requirements Permanent residents can actually lose permanent resident status if they “remain outside the United States for an extended period of time.” USCIS can also determine that a permanent resident “abandoned permanent resident status” if the applicant failed to file a U.S. tax return or declared “nonimmigrant” status on their U.S. tax return.
- Listing an Out-of-Country Mailing Address. USCIS will not mail a Green Card to a foreign address. It will mail cards only to “a valid U.S. mailing address.”
Ensuring Green Card Renewal Approval
The USCIS policy manual states, “In matters involving immigration benefits, the applicant always has the burden of proving that he or she is eligible to receive the immigration benefit sought. “ The best way to ensure that USCIS will approve an application to renew a Green Card is for applicants to be certain that
- all requested information is complete,
- all provided information is accurate and
- all accompanying evidence proves eligibility for the benefit requested.