Have you ever found yourself in a sticky situation, scrambling to renew your green card before a much-awaited vacation? You’re not alone! As a permanent resident in the United States, your green card is your ticket to seamless travel and a worry-free life, but it does come with an expiration date. In this article, we’ll dive into the world of expired green cards, uncovering the potential risks of traveling with one, and guiding you through the renewal process. So sit back, relax, and let’s make sure your travel plans go off without a hitch!
Traveling with an expired green card can have serious consequences, such as denial of re-entry or issues maintaining your permanent resident status. However, there are solutions in place to help you navigate this inconvenience and ensure you can still travel without compromising your status. Exploring these options and understanding the process of renewing your green card will enable you to maintain your permanent resident status while fulfilling your travel needs.
- Understand the implications of traveling with an expired green card
- Learn about the green card renewal process and how it affects your permanent resident status
- Explore solutions for traveling with an expired green card and handling special cases
Green Card Expiration and Travel
Expired Green Card Complications
If your green card expires while you’re outside the United States, you might face some complications while attempting to re-enter the country. An expired green card is not considered valid proof of your lawful permanent resident status, and you may be refused entry or, at the discretion of the Customs & Border Protection (CBP) officer, charged with an expensive re-entry fee1.
To avoid any problems, it’s crucial to renew your green card in time. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has recently extended the validity of Permanent Resident Cards to 24 months for applicants who have filed Form I-90, so make sure to keep this in mind when planning your travel.
Travel Document Options
If your green card has expired or is lost during your trip, there are a few travel document options to consider for your return to the United States:
- ** Reentry Permit:** Before departing the U.S., you can apply for a reentry permit (Form I-131) if you anticipate being abroad for an extended period. It allows you to re-enter the U.S. without a returning resident visa or a valid green card, and is valid for up to two years.
- Advance Parole: If you applied for and received advance parole before leaving the country, you can use this document for re-entry. It is particularly useful for those with pending immigration applications.
- Refugee Travel Document: For those with asylum or refugee status, a refugee travel document (Form I-131) might serve as a valid entry document.
- Returning Resident Visa (SB-1): If you’re unable to obtain a reentry permit, advance parole, or a refugee travel document, you may apply for a returning resident visa (SB-1) at a U.S. embassy or consulate while abroad. To qualify, you’ll need to prove that you had intended to return to the U.S. and that your stay outside the country was beyond your control.
Remember, when traveling, always carry a valid passport in addition to any travel documents required for reentry. It’s essential to be prepared and stay informed about the latest U.S. Customs and Border Protection rules and regulations to ensure a smooth return to the United States.
Green Card Renewal Process
Form I-90: Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card
If your green card has expired and you need to renew it, the first step is to file the Form I-90, the Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card. You can apply online or by mail, but we recommend using the online process, as it’s more convenient and faster. When filling out the form, be sure to provide accurate and complete information to avoid delays in the renewal process.
Eligibility and Requirements
Before submitting your Form I-90, you must ensure that you are eligible for green card renewal. The main reasons for replacing your card are:
- Your green card is expired or will expire within the next six months
- Your card was lost, stolen, mutilated, or destroyed
- You were issued a card before your 14th birthday and now are 14 (unless the card expires before your 16th birthday)
Make sure to gather all necessary supporting documents to prove your identity and permanent resident status.
Processing Times and Fees
The processing times for green card renewal vary depending on the workload of the USCIS at the time of your application. You can check the current processing times on the USCIS website. Keep in mind that you should start the renewal process as soon as possible to avoid any potential issues with traveling or employment.
The fees associated with green card renewal are:
- Form I-90 filing fee: $455
- Biometric services fee (if applicable): $85
If you have any questions or issues throughout the process, the USCIS Contact Center is available to assist you.
Remember to follow all guidelines and requirements when renewing your green card to ensure a smooth and successful application process. Good luck on your renewal journey!
Maintaining Permanent Resident Status
As a lawful permanent resident, it is crucial to maintain your resident status when your Green Card expires, and you need to travel. This section will guide you through the process and cover essential topics like Reentry Permits and Advance Parole, as well as the impact on naturalization.
Reentry Permits and Advance Parole
If you plan on being absent from the US for more than a year, it is advisable to apply for a reentry permit using Form I-131 before leaving. Obtaining a reentry permit allows you to apply for admission into the US during the permit’s validity without the need to obtain a returning resident visa from a US consulate.
When you have a pending Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status), you might apply for advance parole. Advance parole permits you to travel outside the US temporarily and return without jeopardizing your pending application, allowing you to maintain your lawful permanent resident status.
Impact on Naturalization
While maintaining your Green Card is important, make sure to consider the potential impact on your naturalization process. Extended trips or multiple short trips outside the US can disrupt your continuous residence requirement for naturalization.
Lengthy periods of absence might lead to the initiation of removal proceedings. An immigration judge might determine that you have abandoned your lawful permanent resident status, and you may lose your eligibility for naturalization. To avoid this, try to limit your time outside the US and gather evidence to prove your continuous residence.
In summary, maintaining permanent resident status is vital if your Green Card expires and you need to travel. Be aware of reentry permits and advance parole procedures to protect your status, and consider the potential impact on your naturalization process.
Expired Green Card Solutions
Temporary I-551 Stamp
If your green card has expired and you need to travel, one solution is to obtain a temporary I-551 stamp. You can request this stamp by scheduling an appointment at your local U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office. At the appointment, you’ll need to provide your I-797C Notice of Action as proof that you have filed Form I-90 to renew your green card. The temporary I-551 stamp will be valid for up to one year and will serve as evidence of your lawful permanent resident status while you wait for your new green card to be issued.
Obtaining a Returning Resident Visa
Another option for traveling with an expired green card is to apply for a Returning Resident Visa (SB-1) at the U.S. embassy or consulate in the country you’re currently in or the one you’ll be visiting. To apply for this visa, you’ll need to demonstrate that you:
- Had lawful permanent resident status at the time of your departure from the U.S.
- Intended to return to the U.S. and maintain your residence
- Have not abandoned your residence in the U.S.
Keep in mind that applying for an SB-1 visa may take some time and requires additional documentation, so it’s important to plan ahead if you choose this option.
In both cases, don’t forget to review Welcome to the United States: A Guide for New Immigrants to help you understand your rights and responsibilities as a lawful permanent resident. Finally, visit the Replace Your Green Card page for more information on how to successfully replace your expired green card.
Special Cases and Assistance
Conditional Green Cards
If you have a conditional green card based on marriage, it expires after two years. In order to maintain your legal resident status, you’ll need to file for the removal of conditions 90 days before the expiration date. You’ll need to file Form I-751 or Form I-829 depending on your circumstances. Once approved, you’ll receive a 10-year permanent resident card.
Lost, Stolen, or Damaged Green Cards
In case your green card is lost, stolen, or damaged, it’s essential to get a replacement before traveling. To replace your green card, file Form I-90 as soon as possible. It might take a few months to process, so plan accordingly. While waiting for the new card, you can request an I-551 stamp in your passport, as it allows you to travel without a physical green card. To obtain this stamp, schedule an appointment with your local USCIS office.
Immigration Attorney Assistance
In some cases, it’s best to consult with an immigration attorney before traveling with an expired green card. They can help you understand your options, navigate complex processes, and ensure the preservation of your legal status. Ensure that you provide them with all relevant documentation, including proof of your marriage (if applicable), expired green card, and any previous immigration paperwork.
Remember to plan your travel well in advance and consult with the right resources to have a smooth process and maintain your legal status as a permanent resident.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I travel with an expired green card while waiting for renewal?
Yes, you can travel with an expired green card while waiting for renewal. But, it’s recommended to file Form I-131 for a reentry permit before leaving the United States. Most airlines will not allow you to fly with an expired green card, so submitting Form I-90 for green card renewal is crucial.
What documents are required for green card renewal?
To renew your green card, you need to file Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card. Along with the completed and signed form, you must submit a copy of your expired green card, passport-sized photographs, and the required filing fee. Check the USCIS website for any additional requirements.
Can I be deported due to an expired green card?
Although an expired green card doesn’t automatically lead to deportation, it may cause problems during reentry into the U.S. or when proving your permanent resident status. It is essential to renew your green card by filing Form I-90 to avoid potential legal issues.
What if my green card expired during COVID-19?
If your green card expired during the COVID-19 pandemic, you should still file Form I-90 to renew it. USCIS continues to process applications, but processing times may be longer due to the pandemic. Keep track of your application status through the USCIS website.
Is it possible to travel 3 months before green card expiration?
Yes, you can travel 3 months before your green card expiration. However, if you plan to stay outside the U.S. for an extended period, consider applying for a reentry permit using Form I-131 to avoid any issues during reentry.
What do I do if I lost my green card and need to travel?
If you lost your green card and need to travel, you should file Form I-90 to apply for a replacement card. If you are outside the United States and need to return, you may request a transportation letter from the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate to facilitate your travel.