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A green card, also referred to as a permanent resident card, is evidence of one's status as a permanent resident of the United States. It also serves as an official identity with a photo issued by the government and evidence of your right to reside and work in the country. It's vital to maintain your card up to date. While having an expired card won't result in the loss of your status as a permanent resident, lacking a valid card might complicate confirming your residency and impact reentry, employment, and other important responsibilities.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has indicated that they will likely reject an application if it is submitted more than six months before the expiration date. Therefore, the ideal time to begin the green card renewal process is five to six months prior to the expiration date of your current green card.

If you have a 10-year green card, you’ll need to file Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card. Despite the name, you may also use this form to renew a card. In the case of a Green Card that has a 2-year conditional status based on marriage, you need to file Form I-751 to remove the conditions on your residence. If your Green Card has a 2-year conditional status based on investment, you need to file Form I-829.

The Green Card renewal process contains the following steps:

  1. Complete the applicable form (I-90, I-751, or I-829).

  2. Gather all requested supporting documents. When filing I-90 online, you can upload the supporting documentation and evidence on When filing a paper form, include copies of the documents.

  3. Pay the requested fees.

  4. For the waiting time, USCIS sends you a “Notice of Action”(Form I-797). Receiving this notice confirms the receipt of your application and the initiation of the renewal process.

  5. In the Form I-797 letter, you will also find the 13-character “receipt number” that you can use to check the status of your renewal application in your USCIS online account.

  6. USCIS gives you a biometrics appointment where your fingerprints, signature, and photo are taken.

  7. Following the biometrics appointment, USCIS will continue to process your green card renewal application.

Replacing a Green Card

If you've lost your physical green card, obtaining a replacement involves a process similar to renewal. You'll need to fill out Form I-90, pay the filing fee (via mail or your USCIS online account), and additionally, undergo and cover the cost of biometric screening. Payment for mail replacements can be made using a money order, while online replacements allow payment through credit or debit card.

Can I renew a green card when I’m outside the United States?

Renewing a green card while outside the United States is not possible due to the usual requirement of a biometric appointment, and the card is typically sent only to a U.S. address by USCIS. Therefore, it is generally necessary to submit a renewal application upon reentry to the U.S. If your time abroad is under one year (or two years with a reentry permit), returning with an expired card is usually acceptable. Unites States Customs and Border Protection permits entry with an expired green card, and most airlines will accommodate this however, it's advisable to double-check with airlines and the CBP before traveling, as policies can change. If your expired green card isn't accepted, you might have to complete Form I-131A at a U.S. embassy to request special carrier documentation.

In cases where individuals have been outside the U.S. for a year or longer without a reentry permit, their permanent resident status is typically considered abandoned. If you ever encounter this situation, it is advisable to consult with an immigration lawyer to determine if you meet the requirements for a returning resident visa. If not, you may have to start the green card application process from the beginning.

What Should You Do if USCIS Denies Your Green Card Renewal Application?

In the event that your green card renewal application is denied, you will receive a letter from Immigration Services outlining the reasons for the denial. If you believe that your green card renewal application should have been approved, you can follow these steps:

  1. Submit a motion to USCIS to appeal their decision. If USCIS indicates on the denial notice that your renewal request could be reconsidered, they will either approve your request within 45 days of receiving it or refer your request to the USCIS Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) for further review.

  2. Seeking professional legal guidance is generally recommended after USCIS denies your application. This will help you navigate the process effectively and enhance your chances of avoiding a second denial.

Please note that these steps are provided as a general guideline and may not cover all possible scenarios. Consulting with an immigration attorney for personalized advice is crucial in such situations.

Navigating the green card renewal process can be complex and time-consuming, and any mistakes or delays can have serious consequences for your permanent resident status. If you are unsure about any aspect of the renewal process or want to ensure a smooth and successful application, it is highly recommended to seek professional assistance. Elizee Law Firm provide individuals, families, and employers with the legal representation they need to navigate the process of a complex immigration. For more information on how we can assist you, please visit our website at or email us at

Patricia Elizee is the managing partner of the Elizee Law Firm, an immigration law firm located at 1110 Brickell Avenue, Suite 315, Miami, Florida 33131. Phone 305-371-8846


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