Many permanent residents cannot wait to trade in their green card for full United States citizenship. Usually, after permanent residence of three (if married to a U.S. Citizen) or five years in the United States, the permanent resident is eligible to file the paperwork for his or her citizenship.
But, for a variety of reasons, a permanent resident may not be ready to apply for citizenship right away. For instance, the person may have to go back to their home country for a period of time and needs to reset the 3 or 5 year requirement on United States residency.
So, inevitably, a certain portion of permanent residents see their green cards expire every year. When you know that your legal status is secure, there may not be a lot of incentive to get the documents renewed. You likely do not carry or use your card every day, so it is easy to forget. If your green card is expired and you need to get a new one, here is what you need to know.
- The fact that your card is expired does not mean your status has changed. You are still a permanent resident. But your lack of documentation could mean other difficulties.
- You will want to start the process early. Getting your new card in the mail takes a while, and you are allowed to apply for your renewal 6 months before the card actually expires.
- You can check the status of your application, either online or by phone. Remember that an e-filed receipt number may not have an online status in the first 72 hours after filing. If you have immigration-related questions, you can contact the USCIS Customer Service Center at 800-375-5283.
- It will cost you. $540 to be precise, including the application fee and the additional fee for biometric testing. That alone is a reason to get your citizenship as soon as possible, because the fee for a new passport is much less.
What to do if your card has already expired: It is not possible to expedite your green card renewal, but if you need verification of your permanent resident status, such as starting a new job, or traveling outside of the United States and then re-entering the country, purchasing a home, or even just renewing your driver’s license, you will want to visit your nearest USCIS office and get a temporary I-551 stamp on your foreign passport. This will serve as intermediate proof of your permanent residency while you wait for your new document.
We are always here to help, so if you are having trouble with your green card renewal, reach out to us today!