You don’t need a valid green card until you do. Then, you really do.
Permanent residents are required by law to carry a valid green card at all times. If that doesn’t convince you to renew your expiring or expired green card, here’s four major life problems that might.
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Problem #1: You Need a Valid Green Card To Get a Job
Employers are required to verify your identity and permission to work in the United States. When starting a new job, you will generally be asked to complete the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services I-9 form. With it, you’ll need to provide valid proof of your immigration status.
It is possible to get temporary proof of your permanent residence status with an I-551 stamp from a USCIS Field Office. However, this stamp is only a temporary fix and generally valid for 1 year only.
Problem #2: You Need a Valid Green Card To Re-enter the U.S. after Traveling
Permanent residents are required to present a valid green card or Form I-551 to re-enter the U.S. If you’ve been traveling for longer than 1 year, you’ll also need a reentry permit. If traveling for 2 years or more, you’ll need a Returning Resident Visa.
If you know your green card will expire while you’re out of the country, you can request an I-551 stamp that is valid for 1-year. This will allow you to re-enter the U.S. without an issue.
What if you decide to travel with an expired green card? There is the possibility that you won’t be able to re-enter the United States. Some airlines may not allow you on the plane. Others may require you have a Form I-131A, Travel Document, costing you a fee $575. It’s also possible that you won’t encounter any problems.
Is it worth the risk? Probably not. Better to get a new green card before you go.
Problem #3: You Need a Valid Green Card to Renew a Driver’s License
Most states require that you show valid proof of immigration status to get a driver’s license. It takes 4-6 months to renew a green card and this could affect your driving privileges.
Find out more about state requirements for driver licenses here.