Many people believe a green card is a one-time ticket to permanent residency in the United States. However, most green cards come with a 10-year expiration date, similar to a driver’s license. This doesn’t mean your permanent resident status disappears, but it does mean you need to renew the physical card to maintain its validity.

Why Do Green Cards Expire?

Most green cards expire every ten years and need to be renewed. If green cards give you permanent residency, why do they expire after ten years? There are a few important reasons:


american flag lays draped on a grey concrete surface with green leaves bordering the left sideLike passports, driver’s licenses, and other identity documents, green cards incorporate security features and designs that need periodic updating. Expiration dates every ten years allow the integration of new counterfeit-resistant features, making it harder for fraudsters to produce fake green cards.

Identity Verification

A lot can change in ten years, including a person’s appearance and information. Renewing your green card allows USCIS to gather updated photos, signatures, and biometric data to re-verify your identity and make sure your card reflects current information. This verification also creates an enforcement trail documenting your continued permanent resident status.

Why Renewing Your Green Card Matters

While the 10-year expiration does not affect your underlying immigration status, having a valid green card is still important. Think of renewal as updating your permanent resident identification paperwork. Without renewing, you risk:

Difficulty Proving Legal Residency

An expired card makes it much harder to demonstrate to employers, government agencies, and others that you have lawful status that allows you to live and work in the United States. A current card facilitates processes requiring status verification.

Travel Disruptions

While an expired green card does not necessarily prohibit you from re-entering the U.S. after international travel, it can certainly complicate matters. Updated cards minimize immigration hassles when returning home from abroad.

Potential Legal Issues

There are even legal consequences for not having a current green card. For instance, adults must carry proof of permanent resident status at all times under U.S. immigration laws. An expired card may not suffice, potentially resulting in federal misdemeanor charges in some circumstances.

When Should You Renew Your Green Card?

USCIS recommends initiating renewal up to six months before your existing 10-year card reaches expiration. Applying at least six months in advance builds in processing time and helps make sure you transition seamlessly to an updated card.

If you cut it too close, you risk falling out of compliance if your case unexpectedly extends past the expiration date. Some people with expiring green cards also qualify for citizenship through naturalization but have not yet applied. In this case, renewing the card buys you more time to meet the residency requirements for U.S. citizenship later.

Step-by-Step Green Card Renewal Guide

If your green card’s expiration date is within the next six months (or has already expired), follow these steps to renew it successfully:

Complete Form I-90

USCIS form I-90 Application to replace permanent resident card lies on flat lay office table

The official application is called an “Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card” and uses Form I-90. Download the latest version directly from the USCIS website and complete it carefully according to all the instructions. Mistakes, missing information, or outdated forms can delay processing significantly.

Requirements include:

  • Basic personal details (name, DOB, physical/mailing addresses, etc.)
  • Details regarding your current green card
  • Explanation of why you are requesting a replacement
  • Signatures swearing to accuracy under penalty of perjury

You can file electronically online or submit a hard copy of your application by mail. Both work just as well if you follow all accompanying instructions carefully.

Gather Supporting Documents

Besides Form I-90, you also must submit several civil documents to back up your renewal:

  • Photocopy of your existing green card (front and back)
  • Photocopy of the biographic page of your valid passport
  • Two recent passport photos meeting USCIS specifications
  • Any court orders surrounding a legal name change
  • Termination agreements from previous marriages (if applicable)
  • Additional materials, depending on your specific situation

Supporting paperwork provides proof of your existing permanent resident status and helps everything process faster.

Pay Application Fees

As with most immigration forms, expect to pay a USCIS filing fee when applying for a renewed green card. As of April 1, 2024, the fee to renew a green card is $415 if you are filing the I-90 form online or $465 if filing a paper form. The biometrics fee no longer applies.

However, make sure to double-check the latest figures on the USCIS website before submitting payment. You must include the correct fee amounts or risk delays.

Submit Your Completed Renewal Application

You have the following two options to submit the application:

  • Online Filing: Follow the USCIS digital filing instructions to upload electronic forms and supporting materials through their web portal. Make sure to complete the identity verification steps and pay all related fees electronically.
  • Paper Filing: Mail hardcopy forms and documents to the appropriate USCIS lockbox facility, which you can identify using USCIS contact tools. Only send applications via certified mail with a return receipt so you have confirmation of delivery to the lockbox site.

What to Expect After Green Card Submission

Once USCIS receives your properly filed green card renewal application, you can expect:

  • woman giving her documents to apply visa during interview with specialist in officeBiometrics Appointment: A notice by mail scheduling you to provide updated fingerprints, photographs, and a signature at an Application Support Center. This verifies your identity and checks for any disqualifying criminal records.
  • Decision Notification: Eventually, the USCIS sends approval or denial notices. Approved applications conclude with your renewed 10-year green card arriving in the mail.

Sail Smoothly Through the Green Card Renewal Process with Pride Immigration

Maintaining a valid green card goes a long way to preserve your permanent resident status and avoid legal troubles. By proactively renewing well before expiration, you avoid disrupting your United States residency.

Pride Immigration’s team of experts knows how complex the entire green card renewal process is, which is why we’re here to help. Contact us today at (703) 594-4040 or online and let our experts help you avoid the headaches of renewing your green card on your own.

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Beeraj Patel, Esq.

Partner at KPPB Law
Beeraj Patel's philosophy is simple - make it easy for talented and ambitious individuals to have access to immigration materials so that they can make the choice which is right for them.
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