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Can You Be Deported Because of an Expired Green Card?

Updated on April 4, 2024

At a Glance

  • Green cards can expire, with conditional permanent resident cards being valid for two years and full green cards for 10 years.
  • The expiration of a green card does not affect your lawful permanent residency status or your right to be in the U.S.
  • Consequences of an expired green card may include legal penalties, difficulty finding employment, inability to re-enter the U.S., challenges in buying a house or renewing a driver’s license, and limitations in obtaining professional licenses.
  • It is essential to renew an expired green card in a timely manner to avoid complications, with the renewal process recommended to be initiated at least six months before the expiration date.

As a green card holder, you have the right to live and work in the U.S. Still, you might find yourself in a situation where your green card is about to expire, or worse – it has expired, and you’re not sure what to do or what this means. Can you be deported because of an expired green card? Is there anything you can do to remedy the situation? 

Below we take a look at what happens when your green card expires.

Do Green Cards Expire?

Yes, your green card can expire. Green cards issued to conditional permanent residents are only valid for two years. Full green cards are only valid for 10 years.

What is important to understand, however, is your lawful permanent residency status isn’t linked to whether your green card is still valid or has expired. Even though you get issued a green card when you receive your lawful permanent residency status, your green card is merely proof of your lawful permanent resident status. The green card itself isn’t your status and doesn’t provide you with the right to be in the U.S.

So, just because your green card expires doesn’t mean that your protections as a lawful permanent resident also expire. It also does not mean you are no longer legally allowed to be in the U.S.

However, if you are a conditional permanent resident, it is crucial to keep in mind your conditional permanent residency status will expire at the same time your green card does. Your conditional permanent residency status is only valid for two years, and so is your green card. So even though your green card and status are still not linked or dependent on each other, when your green card expires, your conditional permanent residency also expires. You will need to have the conditions of your residency removed if you want to remain in the U.S. lawfully after your green card has expired.

Still, there are possible consequences of an expired green card you have to keep in mind.

What Happens When Your Green Card Expires?

Firstly, you are required by law to hold a valid green card at all times if you are a lawful permanent resident. So, if you are 18 years or older and caught without a valid green card, you can be convicted of a misdemeanor crime. Your penalty can be a fine of up to $100 or imprisonment for up to 30 days!

Other challenges you may face if you don’t have a valid green card is you could have trouble getting a job, you won’t be able to re-enter the U.S., you won’t be able to buy a house, and you won’t be able to renew your driver’s license.

Before you start a job in the U.S., you have to file a Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification form with your new employer. The purpose of the Form I-9 is to verify your eligibility to work in the U.S. As part of filing the Form I-9, you have to present your valid green card. Legally, the employer isn’t allowed to hire you if you don’t have a valid green card. However, many employers don’t abide by these rules.

If you leave the U.S. for whatever reason and need to return, you will also be refused re-entry if your green card isn’t valid. If you’re lucky, you would be able to re-enter after long delays and very expensive re-entry fees. But there is a chance you won’t be able to get back in the U.S. without a valid green card.

Before you will be approved for a mortgage, you will need to provide proof of your lawful permanent residency to the bank or lender. To do this, you will need to present a valid green card. If you are considering buying a house, make sure you renew your green card in time. It could take a while before your new green card is issued. You don’t want to be caught off guard with an expired green card, which then stands between you and the house of your dreams.

Every state in the U.S. requires you to provide proof of your identity and residency status before you can have your driver’s license renewed. If you don’t renew your green card in time, you will not only be stuck with an expired green card but also with an expired driver’s license.

Finally, if your occupation requires a professional license, you won’t be able to get one in the U.S. without a valid green card. This will be where you are a real estate agent, lawyer, and health care worker, for example.

On the bright side, the U.S. immigration law does not explicitly require you to have a valid green card before you can apply for citizenship through naturalization.

Can You Be Deported Because of an Expired Green Card?

Now we get to the pressing question. Can you be deported because of an expired green card?

You can only be deported from the U.S. if your lawful permanent residency status is no longer valid. Since your lawful permanent resident status is not linked to your green card’s validity, you won’t be deported simply because your green card has expired.

You will only lose your lawful permanent residency status if you abandon your status or become a U.S. citizen.

So, the answer is no, you will not be deported from the U.S. just because your green card expired.

How to Renew Your Green Card

Even though you won’t be deported just because your green card has expired, it is still vital to renew your green card in time.

Renewing your green card is easy. But it isn’t necessarily quick. It currently takes between 10 and 12 months to renew your green card. The best strategy to ensure you don’t get caught with an expired green card is to renew it at least 6 months before it expires.

You can renew your green card online here. If you have any questions, you can read more about the process of renewing your green card here.

Shortly after you’ve filed your green card renewal, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will provide you with a biometrics appointment where you will need to have your fingerprints taken.

While you wait for your new green card, you can schedule an appointment with your local USCIS office and get a temporary I-551 stamp in your passport. This stamp will prove you actually have permanent resident status for a year after the stamp’s date.

From there, you will only need to wait for the USCIS to process your green card.

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Conclusion

If your green card has expired, there is no need to panic. You now know the answer to “can you be deported because of an expired green card” is no. Just make sure you take steps to renew your green card as fast as possible, so you don’t get caught in a tricky situation.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

1. Can You Be Deported Because of an Expired Green Card?

Yes, you can potentially be subject to deportation proceedings if your green card (permanent resident card) expires, and you fail to renew it or take appropriate steps to maintain your lawful permanent resident (LPR) status.

2. What Should I Do if My Green Card Is About to Expire?

If your green card is about to expire, you should take the following steps:

  • Renew Your Green Card: File Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card, with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to renew your green card.
  • Follow USCIS Instructions: Carefully follow USCIS instructions for the renewal process, including submitting the required documentation and fees.
  • Keep a Copy of the Receipt: Keep a copy of your Form I-90 receipt as evidence that you have applied for the renewal.

3. Can I Travel with an Expired Green Card?

It’s generally not advisable to travel internationally with an expired green card. To reenter the U.S., you may need a valid travel document, such as a Refugee Travel Document or a reentry permit. Consult with USCIS or an immigration attorney for guidance on travel.

4. How Can I Prevent Deportation Due to an Expired Green Card?

To prevent deportation due to an expired green card, make sure to renew it in a timely manner. If you encounter delays or complications in the renewal process, consult with an immigration attorney for assistance.

5. Can I Lose My Permanent Resident Status if My Green Card Expires?

Your permanent resident status remains valid even if your green card expires. However, you must possess a valid green card as proof of your status. Failure to renew your green card may result in difficulties when traveling, applying for benefits, or proving your status.

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.

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