A green card isn’t just a work visa and a legal requirement: it’s how you can maintain and continue to improve your life here in America. Without it you’ll have little or no income, and without income daily life here is less enjoyable, less meaningful, and unsustainable. That’s why an expiring green card is a problem.
Green cards are valid for up to 10 years, and conditional permanent resident status on green cards lasts for 2 years. Some older green cards do not have expiration dates, but USCIS recommends that these cards be renewed and replaced with newer versions.
It is vital to handle extensions, renewals, and removals of conditions in a timely way. If you find the process too confusing, or if you’re running out of time, contact Boston immigration attorney Giselle M. Rodriguez. Giselle helps clients with the full range of immigration challenges, including green card extensions and renewals. She is bilingual (English & Spanish), and works with clients throughout Greater Boston and Massachusetts. Contact Giselle today to discuss your case, or read on to find out more about maintaining your green card and staying in the United States.
You should apply for a renewal of your Permanent Resident card when it is six months away from its expiration date. You may not apply earlier, but it’s unwise to apply any later.
If you’re a conditional resident, you need to apply for your removal of conditions at least 90 days before your green card expires.
If you are renewing a 10-year card, use Form I-90. If you’re a conditional resident you need to file form I-751 to have the condition removed, or I-829 if you came in on an investor or entrepreneur visa.
Failing to carry your unexpired green card with you at all times makes you guilty of a misdemeanor. If you are caught and charged, even that relatively minor crime could be justification to deport you from the United States, because any criminal act threatens your immigration status.
Be prepared: renewing your green card costs a $540 fee (as of today).
What happens if your green card expires?
If your green card expires it will be illegal for you to work or to obtain a professional license for certain jobs until you renew it. You also won’t be able to get credit or renew your driver’s license.
Traveling outside of the United States can also become quite dangerous. You won’t be able to re-enter the United States on an expired green card. If you are allowed back in at all, re-entry could be expensive and difficult.
There is some good news: You don’t lose your lawful permanent resident status when your green card expires. Mostly, it just means that you must get a new green card.
There is no limit to the number of times you can renew your green card. If it expires, you will need to re-apply for a green card.
Eventually, it might be better to stop renewing your green card and to apply for citizenship instead. (Citizenship never expires, of course.) You no longer will have to carry your green card with you everywhere you go. Your ability to work will never again be called into question.
If and when you get to that point, we can help you seek US citizenship.
It can take ten to twelve months to renew a green card.
However, if you apply prior to your green card’s expiration date, your application can be used to get a valid proof of temporary permanent residence that should allow you to continue your normal activities until your new green card arrives. That grace period is a good reason to renew your green card as soon as you can.
Especially if you’ve already allowed your green card to expire, you might need some additional help protecting your immigration status. If you need help, or want to begin pursuing citizenship, contact Giselle M. Rodriguez in Boston today.