How to Renew or Replace Your Green Card

As a permanent resident in the United States, a green card is perhaps the most important document you possess. It proves your identity and status, including your right to work in the country. If you are a permanent resident, your green card is valid for 10 years. Meanwhile, a conditional permanent resident’s card expires after two years.

If the expiration date is approaching or you need a replacement, it’s vital that you take the necessary steps to move forward with your life in the United States. Remember, you are legally obligated to carry a valid green card at all times. You are also required to present proof of your right to work before starting a new job. 

green card with american flag in background
A green card with an American flag in the background. Learn more about the process of renewing or replacing your green card.

When to Renew or Replace a Permanent Resident Card

According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, you can renew your green card when the expiration date is within the next six months. All currently valid green cards have the expiration date clearly printed on the front of the card.

The USCIS states that you MUST replace your green card if:

  • You were issued a card valid for 10 years that has either expired or will expire within six months.
  • You have a Permanent Resident Card that does not have an expiration date on it.
  • Your card has been lost, stolen, or damaged.
  • You were issued a card valid for 10 years before you turned 14 years old, and it will not expire before your 16th birthday.
  • Your card was printed with incorrect data (name, DOB, issued date) due to USCIS administrative error.

You also may replace your green card if:

  • Your name or other biographic information has been legally changed.
  • You have taken up commuter status. This means you travel regularly to work in the United States but reside in Canada or Mexico.

If you are in any of these situations, apply for a new green card with USCIS Form I-90. FileRight will set you on the right track, starting with a free questionnaire to check your eligibility

Submitting Form I-90

After your eligibility has been confirmed, the online software will lead you through completing your paperwork by asking a series of straightforward questions. The program checks your answers, so you won’t forget anything or submit incorrect information.

When you have completed the form I-90, these next steps will help you organize your packet:

  • Sign the form at part five
  • Include supporting documents, including a photocopy of your green card, or a photocopy of a government-issued ID if your green card was lost or stolen
  • Pay all applicable fees by check or money order to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security

The wait times for a response from USCIS vary depending on the number of applications being submitted. If at any point, you would like to know the status of your application, you can check it directly on the USCIS website.

What if I Can’t Afford the I-90 Green Card Renewal Application Fee?

You can request a fee waiver for the I-90 application if you can provide documentation showing that you qualify based upon one of the following criteria:

  • You, your spouse, or the head of household living with you, are currently receiving a means-tested benefit.
  • Your household income is at or below 150% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines at the time you file. Check the current Federal Poverty Guidelines for this year at Form I-912P, HHS Poverty Guidelines for Fee Waiver Requests.
  • You are currently experiencing financial hardship that prevents you from paying the filing fee, including unexpected medical bills or emergencies.

To request a fee waiver, file Form I-912 with your I-90 green card renewal application.

Will I Lose My Permanent Resident Status if I Do Not Renew My Green Card?

No, you will not lose your permanent resident status if you do not renew your green card. Permanent resident status is permanent. It does not expire or change. However, you are required by law to carry evidence of your status/registration (e.g. a valid, unexpired green card or temporary proof of status that you receive at the time of filing to renew your green card).

What to Do if You Are a Conditional Permanent Resident

Conditional permanent residents received their green cards through marriage or entrepreneurship. If this is your situation, you may not renew when two years are up. Instead, you have 90 days before the card’s expiration to apply for conditions to be removed on the green card. Otherwise, you will lose your residency status.

Submit Form I-751 to become a permanent resident without condition. FileRight will provide you with up-to-date forms and clear explanations of each item in either English or Spanish. 

Should you need any additional assistance using the program, technical support is available by phone at any time. When you’re done, you’ll have completed documents ready to be filed with the government, along with customized instructions for how to do so.

If you have not yet obtained permanent residency status, FileRight can still help. The online software includes a package for a relative who is currently a resident or citizen to submit a petition on your behalf with Form I-130. When that form is approved, you can file Form I-485 to receive a green card.

How Can I Get Temporary Proof of Permanent Resident Status While I Wait for My New Green Card?

The following documents can serve as temporary evidence of lawful permanent resident status:

  • A foreign passport with a temporary Form I-551 stamp or I-551-printed notation on a machine-readable immigrant visa (MRIV).
  • An expired green card with Form I-797, Notice of Action, indicating that the card is valid for an additional year.
  • A Form I-94 with a temporary Form I-551 stamp, which is a receipt for the green card. At the end of the receipt validity period, which is the expiration date of the stamp, the employee must present their Permanent Resident Card (Form I-551).

To request interim evidence of permanent residence, contact a USCIS Field Office or make an InfoPass appointment.

What Will Happen if I Let My Green Card Expire?

Having an expired green card could cause lots of problems. While you won’t lose your permanent resident status, the law requires you to carry a valid green card at all times.

Without a valid green card, it can be difficult to get a new 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.

You also need a valid green card to re-enter the U.S. after traveling abroad. And, you need a valid green card to renew a driver’s license in most states.

Letting your green card expire will only create headaches for you. Take immediate action when your card is within six months of expiration to avoid these challenges.

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