What is a Green Card?

A Green Card is administered to foreign nationals who qualify to be United States lawful permanent residents. The Green Card is a photo identification card that proves the Green Card holder’s permanent resident status. A Green card is a prerequisite to become naturalized as a United States citizen.

What Does it Mean When a Green Card Expires?

When a Green Card identification document expires, it does not mean the Green Card holder’s permanent resident status has expired. Instead, the Green Card identification document must simply be renewed so that the Green Card holder can continue to use the document to travel and obtain work in the United States. Also, the Green Card identification document is renewed so that it accurately reflects the Green Card holder’s current information.

When Must Green Cards be Renewed?

Since Green Cards are issued to permanent residents, the permanent status of the Green Card does not expire. However, the identification document issued to Green Card holders does expire and must be renewed. When the Green Card identification document needs to be renewed and the process for doing so depends on whether the Green Card holder is a “lawful permanent resident” or a “conditional resident.”

Lawful Permanent Residents

Green Card holders who are deemed lawful permanent residents must renew their Green Card identification document after 10 years from the date it was first issued. Additionally, after renewal, the Green Card will need to be renewed again in another 10 years and so on.

Conditional Residents

Green Card identification documents issued to Green Card holders who are deemed conditional residents expire after 2 years from the issued date. Unlike lawful permanent residents, conditional residents must petition within 90 days of the expiration date to have the conditions removed from their Green Card. If the petition is approved, the conditional resident will be deemed lawful permanent residents and issued a Green Card valid for 10 years.

Old Green Cards

Some Green Cards that were issued a long time ago do not have any expiration date. However, United States Citizenship and Immigrations Services (USCIS) recommends that these old Green Cards be renewed to avoid issues travelling or working on the Green Card.

How to Know a Green Card Needs Renewal?

A Green Card’s expiration date is shown on the front of the identification document, where biological information such as name, date of birth, gender, and country of birth is shown.

A Green Card must also be renewed if the identification document was lost, stolen, damaged, or destroyed, or if the Green Card holder previously commuted to work in the United States and is now taking up actual residence in the United States, or vice versa. Moreover, a Green Card must be renewed if it contains incorrect or out of date information, including an out-of-date surname or errors printed on the Green Card from when it was issued. Lawful permanent residents or conditional residents who never ultimately received their Green Card in the mail must file to renew their Green Card. Individuals who became Green Card holders before the age of 14 years of age must renew their Green Card when they reach the age of 14. And, individuals who hold a now-invalid Alien Registration Card must go through the renewal process to receive a Green Card.

What is the Process to Renew a Green Card?

The process to renew a Green Card is relatively simple and can be done online or through the mail. However, there are different requirements depending on whether the Green Card holder is a lawful permanent resident or a conditional resident.

Lawful Permanent Residents

Lawful permanent residents who need to renew their Green Card must file Form I-90 with the USCIS within 6 months of the expiration date shown on the card. Form I-90 can be filed online or on paper through the mail. In order to renew a Green Card online, the Green Card holder must create a USCIS online account, where the Green Card holder can submit information and evidence and pay filing fees electronically.

Supporting Documents and Evidence

Generally, the only evidence needed to renew a Green Card is the current, soon-to-be expired Green Card. However, if the reason the Green Card holder seeks renewal is because the card was lost, stolen, damaged, destroyed, or it was never received, some other government-issued photo identification card (driver’s license, passport, military ID) will also need to be submitted with Form I-90.

Similarly, individuals who hold a now-invalid Alien Registration Card must submit a government-issued photo identification card and evidence of temporary resident status.

If renewal is sought due to a name change or status change from commuter to actual resident (or vice versa), legal documentation reflecting the name change or employment change must be submitted.

Biometrics Services Appointment

After filing Form I-90 and paying applicable fees, the Green Card holder will receive a confirmation letter showing that Form I-90 was received. A Green Card holder may also be required to attend a Biometrics Services Appointment with the USCIS. A notice of the Biometrics Services Appointment will be sent to the Green Card holder within 1-2 weeks after Form I-90 is received.

At the Biometrics Services Appointment, a Green Card holder may be subject to an interview or required to provide his or her fingerprints, photograph, and/or signature in order to verify the Green Card holder’s identity, obtain additional information, and conduct a background and security check.

Conditional Residents

Conditional residents who need to renew their Green Card must either file Form I-751 or Form I-829, depending on their circumstances, within 90 days of the expiration date. Conditional residents should not file Form I-90.

Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence, is required if the Green Card holder is seeking to remove conditions on a Green Card obtained through marriage. Form I-829, Petition by Investor to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status, is required if the Green Card holder is seeking to remove conditions on a Green Card obtained through financial investment in a United States business.

After filing Form I-751 or Form I-820 and paying applicable fees, the conditional Green Card holder will likely be required to attend a Biometrics Services Appointment with the USCIS.

Importantly, conditional residents who fail to petition to remove conditions on their Green Card may lose their permanent resident status.

Old Green Cards

Individuals who need to renew a very old Green Card that does not show an expiration date must follow the same renewal process required for lawful permanent residents.

When Will the Renewed Green Card be Issued?

After the petition for renewal is submitted, it can take anywhere from two months to 1 year to receive the renewed Green Card. This is a reason why it is important to submit a petition for renewal within 6 months of the expiration date.

How Much Does it Cost to Renew a Green Card?

The cost to file Form I-90 is $455. The cost to file Form I-751 is $595. The cost to file Form I-829 is $3,750. The Biometrics Services fee is $85 for all Green Card renewals.

What if the Application for a Renewed Green Card is Denied?

When a petition for a renewed Green Card is denied, USCIS will send a letter explaining why the petition was denied. Denial may be due to a more serious issue, such as a pending deportation order. In less serious cases, a petition is denied because of a clerical error or missing documentation.

If the USCIS denies a petition for a renewed Green Card, the Green Card holder can submit Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion to the USCIS office that made the denial decision within 30 days of the decision. When submitting Form I-290B, the Green Card holder should submit new facts, documentation, or evidence that corrects, amends, or completes incorrect or missing information in the original Form I-90. Submitting new information will improve the Green Card holder’s chances that submitting Form I-290B will be successful in receiving a renewed Green Card.

How Long Will a Renewal Last?

Once a Green Card is renewed, it will be valid for an additional 10 years from the renewal date. This is true for lawful permanent residents who are renewing their card and conditional residents who petition to become lawful permanent residents.