Top Five Green Card Renewal Questions.

When Should a Green Card be Renewed?

Permanent resident cards (green cards) are valid for just ten years. Therefore, the right time to apply for renewal is roughly five (5) to six (6) months from the date on which the card will expire. Applications for green card renewal must not be filed before six months from the date of expiry, which is too early; such applications may be rejected and returned to the applicant.  However, an immigrant’s permanent resident status will not be lost if green card renewal is not done. But the law requires all immigrants to hold valid resident cards at all times.

How to Renew Green Card if Outside the United States?

If you are outside the United States and your green card will expire within 6 months (but you will return within 1 year of your departure from the United States and before the card expires), you should file for your renewal card as soon as you return to the United States. If, however, you are outside of the United States when the card expires and you had not applied for the renewal card prior to your departure, you should contact the nearest U.S. Consulate, USCIS office, or U.S. port of entry before attempting to file Form I-90 for a renewal green card.

Can Conditional Permanent Residents Renew Their Green Cards Using Form I-90?

Green cards with conditions are not renewable. Conditional card holders can get their lost or mutilated green cards replaced by filing Form I-90. But if their cards are set to expire, they will have to get the conditions on their cards removed by filing Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence and not file Form I-90.

How Long Does it Take to Renew a Green Card?

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) generally takes anywhere between three (3) to five (5) months to process and decide on green card renewal applications.

However, it should be noted that applications filed with errors will take longer than the standard 3-5-month period. Mistakes in applications can be costly, and will result in delays. It is wise to prepare Form I-90 online, referring to step by step instructions, if not seeking legal help to renew, to avoid mistakes and delays.

Can Permanent Residents Avoid the Green Card Renewal Process?

Yes, if they apply for U.S. citizenship. Those who have already been legal permanent residents for five (5) or more years may be eligible for U.S. citizenship; and can apply for citizenship instead of renewing their green cards. Citizenship is not like the green card status that requires the holder to go through the renewal process every decade. U.S. citizenship status is for life and does not need renewal. Green card holders can check if they are eligible and apply for U.S. citizenship by filing Form N-400, Application for Naturalization.