What to Do if Your Green Card Expired

Posted by Frank Gogol

Due to the opportunities that the United States has in terms of studies and careers, many foreigners hope to move there and start a new life. Overall, there are around 13.2 million green card holders. But what many of them fail to notice or forget about is that their green cards might expire.

How does it affect you if your green card expired? Let’s find out!

Do Green Cards Expire?

Green cards can expire after a while, something that many may not be aware of. There is no expiration date on it, which is why many people end up walking around with an expired card without even knowing it.

Green cards, aka Permanent Resident Cards, are generally valid for 10 years. But if you have been offered conditional permanent resident status instead, then the card will be available for a shorter period, of respectively 2 years.

Therefore, it is important to remember these details and always have your green card up-to-date. Otherwise, you may not be able to prove the fact that you’re a permanent resident, which will make it difficult for you to get employed and travel properly.

If you were given a green card 10 years ago and it is expired, then you have to renew it. On the other hand, if your green card is set to expire within the following 6 months, you will also have to renew it as soon as possible.

The situation is a little different if you are a conditional permanent resident. If you want to still live in the U.S., then you will have to make sure the conditions of your residence are removed before the expiration of the card. So, 90 days before your card expires, you have to file a petition to make sure you get rid of the conditions. If it gets approved, then you are going to receive a new green card, one that will be available for 10 years.

You also have to check whether there is an expiration date on the front of the green card. If there isn’t any, it means that you own a very old version of the card, one that is most likely not available anymore. The card should be renewed even if there is no expiration date on it.

Even if renewing your green card will cost you $540, you end up saving cash in the long-run, as the consequences of an expired card would cost you even more. You may not lose your status as a permanent resident if your card expires, but you would still have some problems that are better to be avoided. It will take you 8-10 months to renew your green card, after all.

5 Big Issues an Expired Green Card Can Cause

Here are some problems you might face if your green card has expired:

1. Inability to Get Hired

Obviously, if you want to live in the U.S., you need a way to sustain yourself and your family, in which case, you need a job. If your green card is expired, though, you will have a hard time trying to get hired.

At your new workplace, your employer will have the responsibility to submit a Form I-9 for you. This form will check if you are permitted to work in the U.S. It will also check your identity. In order to meet the “List A” document requirements, you will have to present a valid green card, and it should be done no later than your first employment day. If your green card is expired, then the employer shouldn’t take it.

Temporarily, you may use a foreign passport that has a temporary I-551 stamp, as it works as a List A document requirement. But if you do not have this stamp inside your passport, or you have one but it’s not valid, then you will have to schedule an appointment at your local USCIS office. You can contact them by calling them on their number (which can be found on the official USCIS website).

Even the second solution might give you issues because it takes some time, and your employer might not want to wait for weeks until you have your appointment.

2. Inability to Acquire Professional Licenses

Depending on your particular occupation, it is impossible to maintain your job if your green card is not valid anymore. In the majority of the states, you cannot obtain a professional license unless you have a valid green card.

Having a professional license would be very beneficial, as it is necessary for healthcare, insurance agents, real estate agents, and many others. You wouldn’t be able to do your job without it – that’s why you need to make sure your green card is valid.

3. Inability to Reenter the U.S.

If your green card expired, it will affect your ability to reenter the United States – and you don’t want this to happen if you need to travel. It can actually be very risky, so if you’re someone who travels a lot, you should make sure to check whether your green card is still valid or not.

If you are in the U.S. and would like to travel outside the country, it can be risky for you. There are many airlines that won’t allow you on board if you don’t have a valid green card. Airlines are required by the U.S. law to look for evidence of permanent resident status before allowing you inside the plane.

Meanwhile, for re-entering the U.S., you will be asked for valid evidence of your lawful permanent resident status by the CBP. Because the expired green card is not considered proof, you will have to deal with a delay or even not being allowed to enter the country.

Green Card Expired in the U.S.

In case your green card expired inside the U.S., then you can use a foreign passport that has a temporary I-551 stamp if you want to travel. It serves as proof of permanent residency. Make sure to call USCIS and schedule an appointment to obtain it, and do this early enough, as it may take weeks to even have the appointment. It’s also recommended to immediately file Form I-90 too, for renewal of your green card.

Green Card Expired Outside the U.S.

If you want to re-enter the U.S. yet you don’t have a valid green card anymore, you will have to prepare Form I-131A. Submit it to someone at the closest U.S. consular office, which will request a boarding foil. It might take between 7 and 14 days. When you arrive, you will have to file Form I-90 to renew the green card.

4. Inability to Buy a Home

If you want to buy a home, you will not be able to do so if your green card has expired, at least not in all cases. Getting a mortgage can only be done if you can prove your permanent residency status, which can be done with a green card photocopy. You should renew your green card as soon as possible.

5. Inability to Renew Your Driver’s License

For driver’s license renewal, you will need a valid green card to prove your permanent residency status. Since it takes a while to renew the card, your driving privileges will be affected too. But each state has its own laws for driver’s licenses, so make sure to talk to the Department of Motor Vehicles in your state so you find out what you need to prove your residency.

Most of the time, renewing your license with an expired green card is not possible. Still, in some cases, it may be possible with an I-551 stamp on your passport, depending on the state.

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Conclusion

Renewing your green card is very important – otherwise, you’d be missing out on many benefits. An expired green card needs to be taken care of as early as possible unless you want to deal with problems. Hopefully, you now understand why it’s so relevant.

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