The process of obtaining a green card can often be long and drawn out, so once you finally have one, the last thing you want to do is let it expire. Green cards, also known as permanent resident cards, establish legal residency for people who aren’t American citizens. The cards prove that a person is authorized to live and work in the United States. Permanent residents 18 years or older must carry their cards with them at all times. To maintain residency in the U.S., green cards must be renewed before they expire. Not having a current green card can prevent you from working or traveling.
A green card renewal is not automatically granted. You must apply to renew your card using the Form I-90 Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card to establish that you still meet the requirements for permanent residency status.
When to Renew a Green Card
A standard green card is valid for 10 years. It should be renewed if the card has expired or will expire within six months. If you are a green card holder living outside of the U.S. and your card will expire within six months, you must file for a renewal as soon as you return to the states. You must return within a year of when you left and before the card expires or you can lose your permanent resident status.
If you were granted a green card with conditional permanent resident status, the card is only valid for two years. These cards are issued based on marriage and to investors or entrepreneurs. Instead of renewing a conditional card, you’ll need to petition to remove the conditions of your residence status before the card’s expiration using either the Form I-751 Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence or Form I-829 Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status. That can be done 90 days before the card expires. Once the petition is approved, you will be granted a permanent resident card that is valid for 10 years. If you neglect to file the petition, you can lose your residence status.
Apply to Renew a Green Card
A green card renewal is not automatically granted. You must apply to renew your card using the Form I-90 to establish that you still meet the requirements for permanent residency status. Information required on Form I-90 includes personal information, the reason for the application and details on your immigrant status. If an interpreter or other person is used to help complete the application, she must submit certain information as well. Submission of the form is not complete without a signature and payment of the filing fee. The form can be submitted online or by filling out a paper application and sending via mail. Submitting the form online allows you to more quickly track the status of your application, respond to any requests and get case updates. The Form I-90 is also used to apply for a replacement card if yours is lost or stolen, or if your personal information needs to be changed.
As part of the renewal process, you may be required to appear in person to provide biometric information, such as fingerprints, photo and signature. These are used to verify your identify and perform a background and security check. These appointments are held at a local U.S. Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) Application Support Center.
Cost to Renew a Green Card
The cost in 2018 to renew a green card is $455, plus $85 for the biometric services fee, if required. The non-refundable fee can be paid by money order, personal or cashier’s check, or credit card. If you are unable to pay the fee based on financial hardship, you can apply for a waiver using Form I-912 Request for Fee Waiver.
What Happens if Your Renewal Is Denied
Despite your best efforts, a green card renewal may be denied. Some of the reasons a renewal can be denied include missing the renewal deadline, failure to provide all the required documentation or having engaged in any illegal activity. You will be informed as to why you were denied. If your renewal is denied, you may file a motion asking the USCIS to reconsider its decision. The motion must state relevant new facts along with corresponding documentary evidence. The facts and evidence have to show that denial of your original application to renew was based on improper application of law or immigration policy. It must also show that the decision was wrong based on the information submitted with the initial renewal form. Motions can be filed within 30 days from the date of the decision using Form I-290B Notice of Appeal or Motion.