Note: This page does NOT pertain to conditional permanent residents who have a 2-year green card. Conditional permanent residents are also required to replace their expiring green cards, but they are subject to a different set of rules and regulations in connection with replacing the 2-year green card and their particular status. For more information about green card renewal for Conditional Permanent Residents, please visit the following: Conditional Green Card.
Immigration regulations require a lawful permanent resident to renew their green card within 6 months of the card’s expiration date. 8 CFR § 264.5(b)(2). Additionally, immigration law also provides that a lawful permanent resident 18 years old or older must always carry their physical green card with them. INA § 264(e). Due to these laws and regulations, a lawful permanent resident should take the appropriate measures to renew the green card prior to the card’s expiration.
Green Card Renewal Process
To renew an expiring green card, a lawful permanent resident must submit the Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card (Green Card).
After submitting the application, the applicant will receive a receipt notice in the mail that will evidence the applicant’s continued status as a lawful permanent resident. The receipt notice will acknowledge that the receipt notice AND the physical expired green card will both evidence the lawful permanent resident’s status for 24 months starting from the expiration date on the green card.
Processing times for this application often fluctuate. Currently, these applications are taking approximately 1.5 to 2 years to be processed.
Green Card Expiration Did You Know…
It is important to note that green card expiration DOES NOT directly affect an individual’s status as a lawful permanent resident. A lawful permanent resident will remain a lawful permanent resident even after green card expiration! Failing to apply to renew the green card means that the lawful permanent resident is not complying with immigration regulations, but their status as a lawful permanent resident is NOT AFFECTED. A lawful permanent resident in violation of not carrying their physical green card may be subject to penalties of $100 or imprisonment for up to 30 days or both. INA § 264(e). It is worth noting, however, that enforcement of this violation is RARE.
In short, lawful permanent residents should have a valid green card in their possession or documentation in lieu of the green card that is deemed as sufficient evidence of the lawful permanent resident status. An example of documentation that can be presented in lieu of the green card is an expired green card AND the receipt notice received after applying to renew the green card.
As most lawful permanent residents are aware, your green card is everything. A valid green card is usually needed for international travel, to evidence the ability to work, to obtain various benefits in the U.S., and generally, it evidences a lawful permanent resident’s status.
More Helpful Information regarding Green Card Renewal
Can I work with an expired green card?
Technically yes! But in most cases, a lawful permanent resident will need a valid, unexpired green card for purposes of work.
A lawful permanent resident has the authorization to work in the U.S. incident to status. This means that the status of being a lawful permanent resident itself grants a lawful permanent resident their right to work. A lawful permanent resident does not need to apply for a separate special document to evidence the employment authorization.
HOWEVER, all employers have the right and responsibility to verify the identity and employment authorization of their employees. This is known as I-9 compliance. There are various documents and combinations of different documents that will satisfy I-9 requirements. A lawful permanent resident COULD potentially meet I-9 requirements without a valid green card. An expired green card on its own, however, will NOT be sufficient for I-9 purposes.
Therefore, for most lawful permanent residents, a valid, unexpired green card will be the best document verifying their authorization to work.
What if I want to travel internationally?
If your green card has expired or will expire by the return date of your trip, then you will need to file the Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card (Green Card) before your trip and wait to receive the receipt notice. After you travel abroad, to re-enter the U.S. you will need to present the physical expired green card and the original (not a copy) receipt notice. As mentioned above, both documents will serve as evidence of your continued lawful permanent resident status for a period of 24 months from the expiration date on the green card.
If your green card has not expired and you will come back into the U.S. before the card’s expiration date, then you can travel internationally as you normally do. You may receive scrutiny if you try to re-enter the U.S. days before the expiration date on the green card. You can discuss this kind of situation with an immigration attorney, but this can generally be explained to a CBP officer by confirming that you will apply to renew the green card. If you filed the Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card (Green Card) before you traveled abroad and received the receipt notice, you should bring the receipt notice and can present this document along with your green card.
What about REPLACING a lost green card?
Immigration regulations also require a lawful permanent resident to replace a lost green card. 8 CFR § 264.5(b)(1). Also, as mentioned above, immigration law provides that lawful permanent residents must have a green card in their possession. INA § 264(e). So, if you lose your green card, you must make every effort to replace it as soon as possible. A copy of the green card is not sufficient evidence of your status as a lawful permanent resident.
To replace a lost green card, you will need to submit the Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card (Green Card). After submitting this application, you will be able to call the USCIS Contact Center to request an Alien Documentation, Identification, and Telecommunications (ADIT) stamp. The ADIT stamp can be received through an in-person appointment at your local USCIS field office or the USCIS can mail the document. The ADIT stamp is documentation in lieu of the green card that evidences your lawful permanent resident status for a period of 1 year. For example, the ADIT stamp can be used to re-enter the U.S. after a trip abroad and to evidence work authorization.
Lost Green Card while ABROAD
What if you lose your green card while you are abroad? This situation will be very specific to each individual and it is ALWAYS worthwhile to discuss with an immigration attorney to ensure you take the appropriate steps for YOU.
First things first, it is always a good idea to report the lost document to the police. A police report of the lost document may be required for subsequent steps you have to take.
One option is to apply for a boarding foil at a U.S. Consulate abroad. A boarding foil is a document that allows a lawful permanent resident to board an international flight and request entry into the U.S. without a green card. This is generally only available to lawful permanent residents who have not been abroad for a period longer than 1 year. This application will require various documents and a $575 fee.
If obtaining a boarding foil is not a good option for your situation, it is imperative that you speak to an immigration attorney. There may be other options like filing an Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card (Green Card) while abroad or obtaining a returning resident (SB-1) visa, but these options are complex and may have significant consequences. For example, filing an application to replace the green card while abroad may not be a good option in every case. Also, the SB-1 visa reassesses your status as a lawful permanent resident and if it is not successful it could even impede your ability to obtain any kind of U.S. visa in the future.
No expiration date on green card
There is a minority of lawful permanent residents who possess green cards that do not contain expiration dates. From January 1977 to August 1989, U.S. immigration agencies issued green cards without expiration dates. Lawful permanent residents with green cards that do not have an expiration date are not required to renew their green cards as those cards remain valid.
Contact Lightman Law Firm
If you have any questions or need assistance with your green card, contact us and we can assist!