Green Card Renewal

Updated on 05/01/2022

Green cards are among the most important documents for immigrants coming to the United States.  Technically known as Form I-551 or a “Permanent Resident Card”, a green card (which has its name because of its historical greenish color) provides immigrants with various significant benefits, including:

  • The right to permanently reside in the United States;
  • The right to permanently work in the United States;
  • The right to receive Federal and state governmental benefits in the United States, such as Social Security and financial assistance for education (including financial aid and lower tuition);
  • The right to more easily travel to and from the United States; and
  • The right to sponsor other family members for a green card.

Given the benefits from having a green card, once you have obtained a green card, you want to make certain that you do not lose your green card rights.

What must you do to renew a green card?

This article discusses the subject of green card renewal.

Green Card Renewal

Why Do You Need to Renew a Green Card?

The green card is a proof document.  It provides proof of your permanent resident status in the United States.It may be helpful to think of a green card as somewhat similarto a driver’s license; a green card proves that you are qualified as a lawful permanent resident of the United States, and a driver’s license proves that you are qualified as a lawful driver.

It can be confusing when it is said that green cards evidence the right to permanently reside and work in the United States and that green card holders are lawful permanent residents of the United States.

The actual green card is not a permanent document.  Instead, it is valid for only 10 years.

Without a valid green card, even you are still a lawful permanent resident in the United States, it may be difficult to prove that you are entitled to green card rights.  Specifically, it may be difficult to prove that you can work legally in the United States, receive Federal and state governmental benefits in the United States, travel to and from the United States, and sponsor other family members for a green card.

Thus, if you have an expired or expiring green card with respect to the end of its 10-year validity term, you need to take action to renew your green card.

  • Valid photo identification for financial transactions
  • Supporting documents at the Department of Motor Vehicles
  • Evidence of authorization to work in the United States
  • Entry document when re-entering the United States
  • Applying for U.S. citizenship

Therefore, when a lawful permanent resident card is lost or stolen, green card holders may feel at a loss as to how to prove their identity and immigration status.

How Do You Renew a Green Card?

The key form to renew a green card is Form I-90.  Form I-90 should be filed if your green card has already expired or will be expiring within the next six months.  If your green card has not already expired or will not be expiring within the next six months, Form I-90 (if based on an expiring green card) may be initially rejected and have to be re-filed in the “six-month window”. If you missed the “six-month window”, you are still entitled to file Form I-90.

Completion of Form I-90

The official name of Form I-90 is “Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card”.  Form I-90 is seven pages. 

Form I-90 consists of eight parts:

  • Part 1 – “Information About You”. Name (including if your name has legally changed), address, and various additional information, need to be included;
  • Part 2 – “Application Type”. Immigration status (“Lawful Permanent Resident”, “Permanent Resident – In Commuter Status”, or “Conditional Permanent Resident”), and the reason for the Form I-90 application, need to be included;
  • Part 3 –“Processing Information”. The location where you applied for an immigrant visa or adjustment of status, the location where your immigrant visa was issued or you were granted adjustment of status, various other immigration information (including if you have ever been in exclusion, deportation, or removal proceedings or ordered removed from the United States), and various biographic information, need to be included;
  • Part 4 –“Accommodations for Individuals with Disabilities and/or Impairments”.
  • Part 5 – “Applicant’s Statement, Contact Information, Certification, and Signature”.
  • Part 6 – “Interpreter’s Contact Information, Certification, and Signature”.
  • Part 7 – “Contact Information, Declaration, and Signature of the Person Preparing this Application, if Other Than the Applicant”.
  • Part 8 – “Additional Information”.Extra space to provide any additional information is available.

Documents to Submit with Form I-90

If you are filing Form I-90 attributable to an expired or expiring green card, you also need to submit a copy of your expired or expiring green card with your Form I-90.

Processing of Form I-90

Form I-90 is filed with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”).  You have the option to file Form I-90 online or by mail.

After you file Form I-90, you should receive a notification letter (known as “I-797 Receipt Notice”) from USCIS.  This letter will include a 13-character “receipt number” (consisting of three letters and 10 numbers) that you can use to check the status of your green card renewal application. If you filed the Form I-90 in the “six-month window”, the receipt notice will indicate that your green card is extended for extra 12 months from the expiration date of the green card.

About three to eight weeks after USCIS receives your Form I-90, you will receive notice of a scheduled date for a biometrics appointment. At the biometrics appointment, you will be fingerprinted and photographed; your signature will also be taken. Some applicants who had a biometrics appointment before will most likely receive a letter from USCIS that no biometrics appointment will be scheduled because USCIS is able to reuse their biometrics information.  

Most green card renewal applications are approved.  However, the following are among the common reasons why a green card renewal application may be denied:

  • You have committed certain crimes. These crimes include “moral turpitude” crimes, two or more crimes that result in five or more years of imprisonment, and controlled substance trafficking crimes;
  • You are considered as having abandoned your permanent resident status;
  • You provided incorrect information on the Form I-90; or
  • You used the wrong form for your green card renewal application.

If your green card renewal application is denied, UCSIS will send you a letter explaining the reason for the denial.  You can submit a motion to request that USCIS reconsider its decision.  USCIS either will grant your request or refer your case to the Administrative Appeals Office for further review.

It should be noted that certain “conditional” green cards have only a two-year validity term, and action must be taken to “remove” their conditions and convert them to “permanent” green cards 90 days before the end of their two-year validity terms. Form I-90 is not used for such “conditional” green cards.  Instead, if the “conditional” green card was issued based on marriage, you file Form I-751, and if the “conditional” green card was based on being an entrepreneur or investor, you file Form I-829.

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How Long Does it Take to Renew a Green Card?

USCIS estimates that the time range for processing Form I-90 is approximately six to 14.5 months.

USCIS processing times frequently change over time, so it is recommended that a green card renewal applicant check the current processing time for Form I-90 before it is filed.

How Much Does it Cost to Renew a Green Card?

The filing fee for Form I-90 to renew a green card is $455.

In addition, the biometric services fee in connection with renewing a green card is $85.

What Do You Do if You Have a Lost Green Card?

If you lose your green card (including if it is stolen), USCIS treats a lost green card as similar toan expired or expiring green card.

You must file Form I-90 and pay the required $455 filing fee and $85 biometric services fee.

You also need to submit with the Form I-90 a copy of your green card, if you have one, or a government-issued form of identification that includes your name, date of birth, and photograph.

What Are Other Reasons to Replace a Green Card?

In addition to expired, expiring, or lost green cards, Form I-90 is used to replace your green card in each of the following situations:

  • Your green card was mutilated or destroyed;
  • You receivedyour green card before you were 14 years old and now you have reached your 14th birthday;
  • You have been a commuter and are now taking up actual residence in the United States;
  • You have been a permanent resident residing in the United States and are now taking up commuter status;
  • Your status has been automatically converted to permanent resident status (including special agricultural worker applicants who are converting to permanent resident status);
  • You have a previous version of a green card which is no longer valid to prove immigration status;
  • Your green card contains incorrect information because of USCIS error;
  • You have legally changed your name or other biographic information on your green card since you last received your green card; or
  • You never received your previous green card that was issued to you.

In each of these situations, with the filing of Form I-90, you need to pay the required $455 filing fee and $85 biometric services fee, except if you are replacing your green card (a) based on you receiving your green card before you were 14 years old and now you having reached your 14th birthday, when your green card will expire after your 16th birthday, you only need to pay the $85 biometric services fee, or (b)based on your green card containing incorrect information because of USCIS error, or based on you never receiving your previous green card that was issued to you, you do not need to pay any filing fee or biometric services fee.

You also must submit with your Form I-90 certain documents, evidence, and other information, which vary based on the specific reason for filing Form I-90, including:

  • If based on a mutilated or destroyed green card, the same documents as described above for a lost green card;
  • If based on you receiving your green card before you were 14 years old and now you having reached your 14th birthday, a copy of your current green card;
  • If based on you having been a commuter and now taking up actual residence in the United States, evidence of your U.S. residence;
  • If based on you being a permanent resident residing in the United States and now taking up commuter status, evidence of your employment that is dated within the last six months;
  • If based on your status having been automatically converted to permanent resident status, evidence of your temporary residence status(including a copy of Form I-797 for Form I-700), and a copy of a government-issued form of identification that includes your name, date of birth, photograph, and signature;
  • If based on a previous version of a green card which is no longer valid to prove immigration status, a copy of the prior version of your green card;
  • If based onyour green card containing incorrect information because of USCIS error, your original green card and proof of the correct information;
  • If based on you legally changing your name or other biographic information on your green card since you last received your green card, appropriate legal documents reflecting the name change, if applicable; or
  • If based on you never receiving your previous green card that was issued to you, a copy of the latest Form I-797, “Notice of Action”, for the form that should have resulted in issuance of your green card, or a copy of the page in your passport showing the I-551 stamp you received upon admission to the United States as an immigrant, and a copy of a government-issued form of identification that includes your name, date of birth, and photograph.

Conclusion

In the myriad of circumstances when you need to prove that you are a green card holder (most notably, when you are returning to the United States from another country), you do not want to face any bureaucratic hassle or worse from having an expired green card.

It sometimes seems that immigrants need to deal with USCIS for their entire time in the United States.  Once you experience the joy of receiving an initial green card, it can be annoying to know that you are not completely done, as you will need to renew your green card in 10 years.  The “good news” is that it is generally much easier to renew a green card than to receive an initial green card.  Please keep in mind the timely renewal of your green card, so that you can enjoy the benefits from your green card without any issues from having an expired green card.

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