Legal permanent resident will not lose their green cards just because their cards expired. However, it is important to apply for green card renewal and hold an unexpired green card. Permanent resident status is permanent, but a green card is not. While legal permanent resident status will not expire or change, a green card will expire.
Usually, green cards expire in ten years from the dates they were initially issued. The dates of issuance and expiration will both be printed on the card. Keeping these dates in mind, permanent residents will need to remember to renew their cards on time.
These cards are proofs of permanent residency without which one may not be able to prove that he or she has legal resident status in the country. An expired green card will not result in the loss of one’s permanent resident status. But this does not mean that green card renewal is an optional process.
Anyone who wilfully lets their card to expire will lose their status in the U.S. Permanent residents may find it difficult to find jobs in the U.S. and travel abroad with their expired cards. They may also be in trouble when they try to apply for public benefits and driver’s licenses.
A legal permanent resident will lose his or her status if they abandon their status in the U.S. They will be considered to have abandoned their status if they remain in a foreign country or are absent from the U.S. for a year or more. However, absences from the U.S. are always not risky but in certain cases where the immigration officers find that the legal residents have made foreign country their home and not the U.S., they are more likely to consider that they have abandoned their status in the U.S. Green card holders planning to travel abroad need to plan in advance and get the required travel documents ahead of their travel, if they plan to remain abroad for an extended time period, for example, a year or more.
Green card holders in the U.S. need to start the renewal process if their cards will expire within the next six months. They can either file the green card renewal Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card online or file the paper form. There are no penalties for renewing a green card that has expired. Legal residents can also get their expired green cards renewed.
The following is what the law says about holding an unexpired green card:
“Section 264 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) states, “Every alien in the United States . . . shall be issued a certificate of alien registration or an alien registration receipt card in such form and manner and at such time as shall be prescribed under regulations . . ..” It also says, “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 . . .. Any alien who fails to comply with [these provisions] shall be guilty of a misdemeanor …” The specific requirements and procedures for applying to renew an expiring green card are contained in the Code of Federal Regulations [CFR] at 8 CFR section 264.5.”