How to Renew or Replace Green Card?

Updated on 08/30/2020

Each year, the federal government issues more than a million permanent resident cards, also known as “green card”. Depends on the method you apply for a green card, you will be issued either a 10-year green card or a 2-year green card (so called “conditional” permanent residence). Here we focus on ten-year green card renewal. If you’d like to renew a two-year green card to a ten-year one, please learn more at our Renew 2 Year Green Card.  

Expired Green Card

1. Green card expired?!

A lot can happen in a decade – your elementary school-age child has graduated from college, you’ve put in ten more years at your job and the country has been through two presidential elections. In addition, though, your green card will usually have expired. Green Cards are ordinarily good for ten years. As a green card holder, you must by law renew your expired permanent resident card to remain legally in the United States. You may also renew if your card will expire within the next six months. Naturally, you also need to replace your card any time it’s lost, stolen or accidentally damaged to the point it’s no longer legible (a/k/a “mutilated”) or destroyed.

First of all, don’t panic, and don’t believe anyone who tells you can be immediately deported because your green card has expired. You’re still a lawful permanent resident for life. That can’t be taken away unless you either commit certain types of crimes or you go abroad and stay outside the U.S. for longer than a year (six months with good cause) without returning. But you do need to renew as soon as possible once your current card expires, especially when you have an international travel plan in the near future. Travel abroad with an expired green card will bring you huge trouble and delay your return to the United States significantly.

2. Green card renewal process

To renew or replace green card, you must complete a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Form I-90  “Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card” (despite the name, it’s used for both renewals and replacements). As is true of most dealings with federal government agencies these days, you can renew either online or by mail.

There is some supporting documentation needed to be filed with the form I-90. In most cases, if you’re renewing and your personal situation hasn’t changed you only need to provide a copy of the existing card and (of course) pay the required government fee. If you’re replacing a lost, stolen or destroyed/mutilated card, though, you’ll also need to provide a copy of a government-issued ID, such as a driver’s license (note, however, that it doesn’t need to be a “REAL ID” qualified one), a military ID or a valid passport. 

There are a few other common situations in which you’ll need some additional documents in order to complete the green card renewal process:

  • Your name or other personal information has changed since the issuance of your existing green card. You'll need a legal document (for example, a divorce decree, marriage license or adoption order) that shows the change.
  • You're a “commuter”; that is you live in Mexico or Canada but work in the United States - You'll need your green card and evidence of employment in the U.S within the prior six months (a pat stub or letter from your employer will do).
  • You used to be a “commuter” living in Mexico or Canada but now live in the United States – In addition to your green card, you'll need proof of your U.S. residency (a property deed, lease or utility bill in your name is the most commonly accepted evidence).

Currently, the green card renewal fee is $455, plus $85 biometric service fee. You can apply for a fee waiver (yes, that requires another form) if you can show financial hardship. No fee to pay if you apply for the green card replacement because your existing card has incorrect data due to USCIS’s error. However, if USCIS mailed out the green card, but you never receive the physical card in the mail (in other words, the green card was lost), you still have to pay the fee to replace the green card even if you have no fault at all!

3. What happens after filing I-90 form?

Once you’ve filed the I-90 application properly, you’ll get update messages from USCIS. These will include:

  • A I-797 receipt notice confirming that your application has been received
  • A biometrics appointment notice telling you where and when to go for fingerprinting, photo and signature. At the appointment, you will get a sticker on your existing green card (if you still have it) which extends its period of validity for another one year (awesome, right? That’s why you need to file the I-90 application asap).

   Learn more about appointment for biometrics in our Biometrics Appointment FAQ.

  • A request for any required additional documentation (most likely not if you file the application completely)
  • Notice of whether your application has been approved (new green card will following the approval notice in the mail) or denied with reasons in detail. Generally, the entire processing time for I-90 application is 2-8 months.

4. May I not to renew green card if I plan to apply for citizenship soon?

In practice, USCIS will only accept the N-400 citizenship application with a copy of valid green card or a copy of I-797 receipt notice for I-90 renewal application. So if your green card has been expired, you should file an I-90 renewal application first, and then file the N-400 application. If you green card has not been expired, you may file the N-400 even your green card will be expired when the N-400 application is pending with USCIS.

Let DYgreencard Help You

The discussion above is just a general outline of some typical green card renewal situations. If you’re looking for assistance navigating the often confusing renewal or replacement process, we at DYgreencard would be more than happy to help.  Learn more, or get started today!

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