October 28, 2020

Green Card Renewals: A Simple Guide

Permanent residency is forever, right?  Yes, but even though you have the right to live in the U.S. permanently, your Green Card itself is not permanent.  You must renew it every ten years.  Fortunately, the process of renewing a Green Card is much more straightforward than the process you went through to receive it in the first place!

When Should You Renew Your Green Card?

You can apply for a Green Card renewal if it is set to expire in the next six months. Do not apply to renew it before then, or USCIS will reject your application. You must apply to renew your Green Card no more than six months after it expires. Suppose you are overseas, and your Green Card will expire before you return. In that case, you should contact the U.S. consulate closest to you or the U.S. port of entry where you plan to enter the U.S. and explain your situation before filing your renewal application. 

You must renew your Green Card before the ten-year expiration date if your card is lost, stolen, damaged or the information on it is incorrect or out of date.

Related: What To Do If Your Green Card Is Lost or Stolen

What Happens If You Don’t Renew Your Green Card?

Even if you fail to renew your 10-year Green Card, your status remains, and you are still considered a Lawful Permanent Resident. However, failure to renew your Green Card will prevent you from doing anything where you are required to show your lawful permanent resident status, including entering the U.S. after foreign travel, renewing or maintaining a professional license, starting a new job, or sometimes buying a house.  Additionally, as a permanent resident, you are legally required to carry your Green Card at all times, and you can be charged with a misdemeanor if you do not.

Fees for Green Card Renewal

As of October 20, 2020, the fee for renewing your Green Card is $455, along with an $85 biometrics fee. These fees are waived if you are replacing your Green Card due to a USCIS mistake, such as them losing your card or printing the wrong information on it.  Low-income people can qualify for a fee waiver.

What If Your Green Card Renewal Is Declined?

Renewing your Green Card is usually just a formality. However, USCIS may deny your renewal application if you did or they believe you did one of the following:

  • Filed the wrong form or submitted incorrect supporting documentation
  • Committed a crime
  • Did not pay your taxes
  • Lied on your application
  • Received a deportation order

You cannot appeal a denial, but you can request a reconsideration. You will need to show that a decision was made based on incorrect information or misapplied the law. It is crucial to consult an attorney in such a situation.

Related: What You Need To Know About Requests For Evidence

Steps to Renewing Your Green Card

A man filling out applications and paperwork

The process to renew your Green Card is much easier than the process you went through to obtain it initially.  Still, it is essential that you carefully follow directions to avoid any problems.

Fill Out Form I-90

Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card can be found on the USCIS website, along with instructions. You have the option to fill out either the paper version or creating an online account to complete it electronically. Ensure that you fill out the form entirely and consult the instructions, even if you have done this before since requirements and procedures sometimes change. Many people find selecting the right reason for renewal to be the trickiest section because there are 17 options. Be sure to thoroughly review the form before submitting it!

Submit Required Documentation

In most cases, you will only need to submit a copy of your old Green Card, but you will have to provide additional information in some situations, such as if your card was lost, stolen, or mutilated. In such cases, you will have to submit an alternate identification document. The instructions provide a list of the evidence required in a given situation. Ensure that the photocopies are clear; your application could be rejected or delayed if the officer cannot read it. Do not send original documents unless specifically instructed to do so!

Sign and Submit Application

Be sure to sign your application, or USCIS will reject it!  You will sign it electronically if you are filing online.  You will also need to submit the application fee.  You can pay by check, money order, or credit card, but cash payment is not accepted.  If filing by mail, you will submit it to the Arizona Service Center. The specific address varies depending on if you send it by the United States Postal Service or use another service such as UPS, FedEx, or DHL.  It is always a good idea to use a trackable method.

Green Card Renewal Next Steps

USCIS will issue you a receipt notice a week or two after submitting your application; this serves as proof that you have applied for renewal, so be sure to keep it in a safe place. Soon afterward, you will also receive a biometrics appointment notice. There, USCIS will take your photograph, fingerprint you, and obtain your signature. USCIS will also contact you if they need more evidence. 

It should take about 8 – 12 months for your renewal to be processed. You can check current processing times on the USCIS website. If you need your card sooner than that, you can contact your local USCIS field office and request an “Alien Documentation, Identification & Telecommunications” (ADIT) stamp that gives you proof of your permanent resident status. 

Wrap Up

How an immigration attorney can help you with your green card

By planning ahead and carefully following instructions, you can usually avoid headaches when you renew your Green Card. Still, problems do occasionally occur. If you have any issues, it is always a good idea to contact an immigration attorney who will know how to resolve such issues. This is especially important if your renewal is denied for any reason. An attorney can also take care of the entire renewal process for you if you would rather not have to deal with it.

Related: Do You Need an Attorney For Your Green Card Interview?

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