When your green card expires: What next?

WHAT happens when my green card expires?

Lawful Permanent Resident status is not affected by the expiration of the Form I-551, or the “green card.” A person does not lose his or her status as a lawful permanent resident of the United States by the mere fact that their green card has expired. However, individuals will need to replace their cards to have valid evidence of their status. It is important to have valid evidence of status for employment and travel purposes, and to obtain other benefits incident to LPR status.

A quick note about Conditional Permanent Resident Status

Conditional Permanent Residents in possession of an expired green card must continue to have evidence confirming that their conditional resident status has been extended. The following only applies to renewal green card applicants with an expiring or expired 10-year green card.

Help – my green card expired while outside of the United States! Can I still enter the U.S.?

Yes. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) Officers encountering an arriving lawful permanent resident in possession of an expired 10-year permanent resident card are to advise the returning lawful permanent resident of the need to renew the card and furnish him or her with an application to replace the permanent resident card. No further action must be taken by the CBP.

CBP officers are not authorized to cut, clip, or otherwise mutilate a person’s green card in any manner.

Must I fill out and sign the Application to replace my green card on the spot at the airport?

No. Officers will advise an arriving alien at all air ports of entries of the requirement to renew their green card. These arriving lawful permanent residents shall also be instructed that the Application to renew their green card may be processed at the airport at the time of arrival only, if the LPR is in possession of the requisite fee.

If the LPR is not in possession of the appropriate fee, requests a fee waiver, or elects to submit the application at a later date, then he or she shall be given the application form and advised to file at the appropriate USCIS office.

I am outside of the United States and the airline will not let me on the plane to return home to the United States. What do I do?

Carriers should permit boarding to any bona fide lawful permanent resident in possession of an expired green card with a 10-year expiration date, if the expiration date on the card is the only reason that the LPR would otherwise not be boarded.

My Naturalization application is still pending and my green card expired. What now?

Applicants for Naturalization six months or more prior to the expiration date of their green card, and who have not yet received a decision on the Naturalization application, do not have to apply for the renewal of their green card. If they wish to obtain a new card, they are advised to apply for a renewal green card and pay the requisite filing fee.

Applicants who applied for Naturalization within the six-month period preceding the expiration date on their green card are advised that they still must file for their renewal green card and pay the requisite filing fee.

Applicants who indicate that they wish to file for Naturalization instead of applying for a renewal green card are advised that this is not an option. They must file for their renewal green card and pay the requisite fee, regardless of whether they intend to file a Naturalization application.

No two cases are alike, and with immigration laws constantly evolving, individuals must carefully consider their particular situation in relation to immigration laws before filing for any benefit or application, such as an application to renew their green card or an application for Naturalization. Those who might be eligible for any immigration benefit or program should consult with an experienced, licensed immigration attorney to obtain an in-depth consultation about the law, what the law requires, and how to proceed. In addition, people should be wary of online tools that offer immigration help or notarios who are not licensed to practice law.

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Atty. Lilli Berbano Baculi is an associate attorney with Chua Tinsay & Vega, A Professional Legal Corporation (CTV) – a full service law firm with offices in San Francisco, San Diego, Sacramento and Philippines. The information presented in this article is for general information only and is not, nor intended to be, formal legal advice nor the formation of an attorney-client relationship. Call or e-mail CTV for an in-person or phone consultation to discuss your particular situation and/or how their services may be retained at (619) 955-6277; (415) 495-8088; (916) 449-3923; lbaculi@ctvattys.com. For general information visit www.chuatinsayvega.com.

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