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Renew and Replace Your Green Card: An All-inclusive Guide

If you're a lawful permanent resident (LPR) of the United States, you hold a Green Card, officially known as a Permanent Resident Card. This card serves as evidence of your status, allowing you to live and work in the United States. However, Green Cards have expiration dates, typically set at ten years from the issue date, and they must be renewed to maintain your LPR status. In this comprehensive guide, we'll walk you through the process of renewing your Green Card and discuss the requirements involved.

Why Renew Your Green Card

Renewing your Green Card is essential to maintaining your lawful permanent resident status in the United States. It's important for several reasons:

Legal Status: An expired Green Card may lead to difficulties proving your legal status when traveling, working, or accessing government benefits.

Employment Authorization: Many employers require a valid Green Card to hire you legally.

Travel: An expired Green Card may lead to delays, complications, or even denial of entry when traveling internationally.

Government Benefits: Maintaining a valid Green Card is often necessary for accessing certain government benefits and services.

When to Renew Your Green Card

The process of renewing your Green Card should be initiated within six months of its expiration date. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recommends starting the renewal process as early as one year before your Green Card expires to ensure you receive your new card promptly.

The Renewal Process

Renewing your Green Card involves a series of steps. Here's a breakdown of the process:

Step 1: Prepare Form I-90

Form I-90, officially known as the "Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card," is the document you need to file to renew your Green Card. You can download this form from the USCIS website or request a physical copy through the mail by calling USCIS.

When completing the form, be sure to provide accurate and up-to-date information. You'll need to fill in details such as your name, address, and A-Number (your alien registration number). Make sure to review the form thoroughly, as any errors or incomplete sections can result in processing delays or denials.

Step 2: Gather Supporting Documents

Supporting documents serve as evidence of your eligibility to renew your Green Card. These documents may include:

  • A copy of your expiring Green Card (front and back).
  • A government-issued ID, such as a driver's license or passport.
  • Passport-style photos of yourself.
  • Any legal name change documents (e.g., marriage certificates, divorce decrees).
  • Proof of any criminal history, if applicable.

Always consult the USCIS website or your immigration attorney to verify the specific documents required for your situation.

Step 3: Pay the Application Fee

Renewing your Green Card isn't free, and you'll need to pay a filing fee. The fee amount can vary and depends on your age, reason for filing, and the specific USCIS fee schedule in effect at the time of your application.

It's crucial to include the correct payment when submitting your application to prevent processing delays. USCIS accepts payments via check or money order.

Step 4: File Form I-90

Once you've prepared your Form I-90 and gathered the necessary documents, it's time to submit your application. You have several options for filing:

Online: You can submit your application electronically through the USCIS website. This method is recommended for its efficiency and tracking capabilities.

By Mail: If you prefer a paper application, mail the completed Form I-90 and supporting documents to the USCIS lockbox address specified on the USCIS website.

In-Person: You can also submit your application in person at a USCIS Application Support Center (ASC) if you want to complete biometric services at the same time.

Step 5: Attend Biometric Appointment

After submitting your application, USCIS will schedule a biometrics appointment. During this appointment, you'll need to provide your fingerprints, photograph, and signature. USCIS uses this information for background checks and identity verification.

Step 6: Attend an Interview (if necessary)

In some cases, USCIS may require an in-person interview as part of the renewal process. This is more common if you've had significant changes to your status, a criminal history, or other factors that may require additional scrutiny. Be prepared to answer questions about your Green Card renewal during the interview.

Step 7: Receive Your New Green Card

If your renewal application is approved, USCIS will send you a new Green Card, which typically has a validity period of ten years. Make sure to keep this card in a safe and secure place.

Common Reasons for Green Card Renewal

While renewing your Green Card is generally a straightforward process, some common reasons might necessitate a renewal:

Expiration: Your Green Card's validity is coming to an end.

Lost or Stolen Card: If your Green Card is lost or stolen, you must replace it to maintain your status.

Damaged or Mutilated Card: A Green Card that is significantly damaged or mutilated should be replaced.

Name Change: If you legally change your name, you'll need to update your Green Card.

Changes in Legal Status: If you've experienced changes in your immigration status, such as becoming a conditional resident or obtaining a 10-year Green Card, you may need to renew your card accordingly.

Requirements for Green Card Renewal

To renew your Green Card successfully, you must meet certain requirements:

Continuous Residence: You must have continuously resided in the United States as a lawful permanent resident since receiving your initial Green Card.

Physical Presence: You must have been physically present in the United States for a significant portion of the time since you became a Green Card holder.

No Abandonment: You must not have abandoned your status as a lawful permanent resident by living abroad for an extended period.

Not a Conditional Resident: If you're a conditional resident, the process for renewal may differ. Conditional residents typically need to file Form I-751 to remove conditions on their residence.

No Criminal Issues: You should not have any serious criminal issues that would affect your eligibility for renewal. If you do have a criminal history, it's crucial to consult with an immigration attorney for guidance.

No Fraud: Your initial Green Card should not have been obtained through fraudulent means.

Eligibility: Ensure you are eligible to renew your Green Card by checking the specific eligibility criteria on the USCIS website.

Special Considerations

Conditional Residents

If you obtained your Green Card through marriage to a U.S. citizen or as an investor, you may initially receive a conditional Green Card with a two-year validity. In this case, you should remove the conditions on your residence by filing Form I-751 within 90 days before your conditional Green Card expires. This process requires additional documentation and is different from the standard Green Card renewal.

Long Absences from the U.S.

If you have spent extended periods outside the United States, especially if you have been away for more than one year, consult with an immigration attorney. Long absences could raise questions about your continuous residence and eligibility for Green Card renewal.

Criminal History

If you have a criminal history, even if it's minor, consult with an immigration attorney before applying for Green Card renewal. Depending on the nature of the offense, it could impact your eligibility and may require additional documentation or waivers.

Processing Times

The processing times for Green Card renewals can vary depending on several factors, including the USCIS workload and your specific circumstances. On average, it may take anywhere from 7 to 12 months from the time you file your application until you receive your new Green Card.

To check the current processing times for Green Card renewal applications, visit the USCIS website or contact their customer service.


Renewing your Green Card is a crucial step in maintaining your lawful permanent resident status in the United States. By following the renewal process and meeting the eligibility requirements, you can continue to enjoy the benefits and privileges of your status. Keep in mind that the process may vary slightly based on individual circumstances, so consulting with an immigration attorney for personalized guidance is often a wise choice. With careful preparation and timely submission, you can ensure a smooth transition from your expiring Green Card to a new one, allowing you to continue living your American dream.

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