Once you have been granted a U.S immigration visa, you will be eligible to get a Green Card. The Green Card gives you permission to stay in the U.S permanently and work as a legal person. If you have a Green Card, you are a Legal Permanent Resident (LPR). Those who are in the process of getting their Green Card through marriage or investment will have a Conditional Permanent Residence (Conditional Green Card) and can then apply for the permanent one.
When you get a permanent Green Card, it will be valid for 10 years. After 10 years you will have an expired Green Card and will need a new one. But how do you do that?
This article will go through the process of renewing or replacing your Green Card, the process of applying, time to process, and the cost of renewal.
When to Renew a Green Card?
You should renew your Green Card within 6 months of expiration. If you lost your Green Card, you must start the replacement process immediately.
You can apply for a Green Card renewal if:
- You have a valid Green Card that will expire in 6 months or it has already expired.
- You have a Permanent Resident Card without an expiration date written on it.
- Your card was stolen, damaged, or lost.
- You got a Green Card before you turned 14 years old, but the card will not expire before you turn 16 years old.
- There are mistakes on your Green Card. Mistakes can be in your name, date of birth, or other information because of a USCIS error.
- You changed your name or other biographic information.
- You have commuter status in the U.S, which means that you live in Canada or Mexico but go to work in the U.S.
- If you are outside the U.S and your card will expire within 6 months but you plan to return to the U.S before it expires, then you must renew it when you return.
- If you are outside the U.S and your card will expire before you return, you must either apply to renew it before you leave the U.S, or if you are already in a foreign country, contact a U.S Consulate office, USCIS, or a U.S port of entry. You are not allowed to enter the U.S with an expired Green Card if you have no proof that you applied to renew it.
These situations do not apply to those who have Conditional Permanent Residence (CPR). The CPR is valid for 2 years so, before 90 days of its expiration, you must file for Permanent Residence or Green Card. You will not be allowed to replace or renew your Conditional Green Card if it already expired or if it will expire in 90 days.
How to Renew my Green Card?
To renew your Green Card you must go through four simple steps:
- Complete Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card.
- Pay the applicable fees.
- Submit supporting and required documents.
- Sign Form I-90 and file it.
Complete Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card
The I-90 form has instructions on how to complete it. You must follow these instructions because mistakes will lead USCIS to deny your application. For example, you must choose the correct reason why you are applying for renewal of the Green Card. There are 17 listed reasons so you have to choose the correct ones. The reason you choose will tell you which documents you have to submit.
Pay the applicable fees
Many people wonder how much it costs to renew a Green Card. The cost is set by USCIS and before you submit your documents, you must pay the Green Card renewal fees listed. The first fee is the Form I-90 fee which is $455 and the biometrics service fee (if applicable) is $85.
So in total, it will cost you around $540 to renew your Green Card. You can pay these fees online through a valid Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card. If you do not prefer online payments, you can pay through money order or check, but USCIS does not accept cash. After USCIS receives the payment, you will get a receipt as proof.
Submit supporting and required documents
When you choose a reason for renewal, the instructions in the Form I-90 will list the documents you have to submit.
If you are renewing the card, you must provide only a copy of your current Green Card. If you are replacing it, you must attach:
- a copy of the stolen or damaged card;
- a copy of valid government issued ID such as a passport, military ID, or driver’s license.
If USCIS has made a mistake on your Green Card, you must attach:
- the original Green Card;
- a copy of your birth or marriage certificate with correct information.
Finally, if you have changed your name or other information, you must provide:
- a court order on the decision;
- a copy of your new birth or marriage certificate.
If you are renewing or replacing because of other reasons, check the Form I-90 instructions for more details.
Sign Form I-90 and file it
Follow the instructions of the I-90 to complete the application. Make sure to sign it since USCIS returns or rejects unsigned applications and those filed at incorrect locations.
What to do After You File the Application?
There are two ways to file the application to renew or replace a Green Card. You can file it online or mail it in paper format. Before 2015, USCIS processed the mailed and online applications differently. After 2015, all the applications are also done online. So even if you apply by mail, USCIS will create an online account for you. The online account will have any notifications that they send you and your application status. You can choose not to check the online account since they will send important notices by mail too.
After you have applied, this is what happens next:
- You will receive a mailed receipt that USCIS accepted your application. They will also post the same notification on your online account.
- USCIS will send a notification for when you should go to give your biometrics information. They will send a letter by mail and post it on your online account. This notification will come one or two weeks after USCIS received your application. When you go for your biometrics, you will provide your fingerprints, photograph, and signature. This also confirms that you have been truthful in your application.
- If USCIS needs extra evidence, they will send you a Request for Evidence by mail and post it on your account. If this happens, you must submit the requested documents online by the deadline that USCIS gave you.
- Finally, you will receive a notice of the USCIS decision by mail and they will post it online too.
How Long Does it Take to Renew a Green Card?
Green Card renewal processing may take several months. This is because at any given time, USCIS has many applications pending for renewal or replacement of the Green Card. That is why you must apply for a renewal of the Green Card a few months before it expires so that you do not stay in the U.S with an expired Green Card.
What if USCIS Denies your Green Card Renewal Application?
There are cases when USCIS denies your application to renew or replace the Green Card. The most common reasons why that can happen is because:
- You committed a crime that leads to deportation;
- You lied on the application;
- The U.S government ordered you to leave the U.S before your card expired;
- You filed the wrong forms or gave the wrong supporting documents.
If USCIS denies your application, you are not allowed to appeal it. But, you can submit a motion to reopen or a motion to reconsider the application. To file the motion to reopen, you must provide new facts or information for USCIS to consider if they reopen the case.. To file a motion to reconsider, you must have proof that the decision was made because of a mistake in the application of immigration policy or law.
What Happens if I Do Not Renew my Green Card?
There are no penalties if you do not renew your Green Card from USCIS. This means they will not ask you to pay more fees if you start your renewal process later than 6 months before the Green Card has expired or after it has already expired. But, there are certain things that you will not be allowed to do in the U.S with an expired Green Card, such as:
- Get a new job since all U.S employers ask for proof of permanent residence or citizenship
- Get or keep a professional license such as a lawyer’s or a doctor’s license
- Renew your driver’s license
- Buy a house with the same conditions as a U.S citizen
- Travel out of the U.S and then re-enter the country again
If you do not want to renew your Green Card again, you must check whether you are eligible to apply for a U.S citizenship.