Information Center


4 Big problems will create your expired Green Card

Category : Green Card Renewal

expired-green-cardThe Green card, also known as Permanent Resident card, I-551, expires every ten years and has to be renewed. As you are required by law to carry a valid Green card with you at all times, it is important that you do not let your Green card expire. If your Green card expires, it does not change your status as a lawful permanent resident of the country. You can renew your expired Green card at any time or if eligible, you can apply for citizenship using form N-400 with the USCIS.

At a minimum, the Green card is the proof of your legal status in the U.S. If you let your Green card expire due to any reason whatsoever (overlooking the expiry date or not having enough money to cover the renewal fee), you will come across the problems below:

1.Finding an employment with an expired Green Card :

Employers seeking new hires will generally ask for proof of legal working status. Anyone starting a new job will be asked to fill a Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification Form by the employer. You have to hand over the filled in form along with your valid Green card to the employer.

Possible solution :

The only way to legally start on a new job is if you get a temporary I-551 stamp on your foreign passport. For this, you need to file Form I-90, Application for Green card renewal, with the local USCIS office. After you receive Form I-797 from the USCIS as a receipt, you can request an Infopass appointment, at which the USCIS officer will stamp your passport with I-551. This temporary proof of permanent residence is valid for one year or until the date your passport expires, whichever is earlier.

2.Renewing or getting a driver’s license :

Every state has its own rules for obtaining or renewing a driver’s license. The common requirement for all states, however is that you must have a valid Green card as proof of identity and residence.

Possible solution :

Contact the Department of Motor Vehicles of your state and enquire if you can use the I-551 stamp on your passport to renew/obtain license. If accepted, you may go ahead with the process. Otherwise, you need to file the Application for Green card renewal Form I-90 as early as possible with the USCIS.

3.Buying a new house :

Permanent residents of the U.S are eligible to buy houses on mortgages along the same guidelines as U.S citizens. The lender will require proof of citizenship or your permanent resident status for releasing your mortgage. This means you cannot have an expired Green card while applying for the mortgage or you risk losing the house you want and the loan.

Possible solution :

If you are looking for a home purchase, it is best to renew the Green Card. The only other solution is to get a temporary I-551 stamp on your foreign passport. Enquire if the lender will accept the I-551 stamp on your passport to process the loan. It is totally the discretion of the lender to accept the temporary proof; some will, some may not.

4.Travelling outside the U.S :

Travelling outside the U.S with an expired Green card is highly risky. You will face problems while you try to return into the country as you will not have any valid proof of residence in the United States. Even if you have purchased a flight ticket, many carriers will not let you board without a valid legal document. At the port of entry, you will be subject to U.S immigration review by the Customs and Border Protection (CBP), as you are not a citizen of the United States. It is very important that you possess a valid Green card at this point. An expired Green card will result in a long delay, an extensive re-entry fee and the worst possible case, being denied entry into the United States.

Possible solution :

If your Green card has expired before you leave the country:

If you find that your Green card has expired before you leave for your overseas trip, it is best to file Form I-90, Application for Green card renewal immediately. Having Form I-797, Notice of Action form (receipt of your Green Card renewal application from the USCIS) when you come back into the country is valid proof of your legal residence and that you are in the process of renewing your Green card. If there is not enough time to renew the Green card before you leave, it is best to get the I-551 stamp on your passport. This will reduce a major travel concern as it will serve as a valid proof of residency when you return from a short overseas trip.

If your Green card expires while you are outside the U.S :

If you realize that your Green card has expired when you are overseas and you do not have any valid document to re-enter the U.S, do not panic. Go to your nearest U.S consulate/embassy and file Form I-131A, Application for travel document. On submitting this application, you will be given a boarding foil, which can be used as a valid travel document to return to the U.S. This document will be issued only if you have been outside the U.S for less than a year.

Plan ahead to make things easier! It is always better to start the renewal process 6 months prior to the date on which the Green card expires. This is because the Green Card Renewal process takes 3-5 months and you may get the new Green card after this duration only.

Important Immigration Forms

U.S. Citizenship Form N-400 Green Card Renewal Form I-90

Initys Law Firm Technologies
364 E Main Street Suite 1006, Middletown, DE 19709