Do I Lose My US Residency When My Green Card Expires? Here’s Everything You Need To Know.
The green card is a vital symbol of lawful permanent residents (LPRs) established status in the US. Like citizenship, permanent residency is an intangible status created by law and comes with many benefits that contribute to a full life in the United States. But what happens when that green card expires?
Many people worry they will lose their residence as they reach the ten-year expiry date, but this is not the case. You don’t lose citizenship when your passport expires, and a green card operates similarly. We will discuss renewing your green card, how expiration works, and the exceptions you need to know.
Let’s jump in.
Will you lose your permanent residence if your green card expires?
In short, the answer is no. Lawful permanent residence can only be taken away by an immigration judge via formal removal proceedings in immigration court or by voluntarily relinquishing your residency at a US embassy or consulate abroad.
However, it is important for all lawful permanent residents to renew their green cards when the expiration date approaches so that they always have unexpired proof of their residency. Residents are legally required to carry proof of their permanent resident status, and having an expired green card can cause disruptions. For example:
- Travel limitations: Airlines may deny boarding with an expired green card, restricting your ability to move freely.
- Employment issues: Employers require unexpired documentation to verify work authorization, potentially jeopardizing career prospects.
- Access to public services: Programs like healthcare, housing, and even driver’s license renewal often require proof of LPR status, which an expired card cannot provide.
The key to maintaining your LPR privileges lies in timely renewal. Filing Form I-90 (Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card) within six months of the expiration date ensures you retain all the benefits of being an LPR, including work authorization, travel freedom, and access to government programs. There are other reasons you might need to file a Form I-90, including replacing a lost or stolen green card, fixing incorrect information, or changing your name or gender marker.
It can take several months to receive a new card, so filing the form within six months ensures a smooth renewal. However, your expired card and the notice of action you receive from USCIS can temporarily prove your permanent resident status.
What about conditional residents?
While LPRs typically do not lose their status if their green card expires, there are some exceptions. Indeed, the answer to this question is more complicated if we are talking about conditional residence, a form of permanent residence given to marriage-based immigrants who have been married for less than two years as well as EB-5 immigrant investors.
Conditional residents are granted a green card that expires after two years. They must apply to “remove the conditions” within 90 days before the card expires, or they will be subject to removal proceedings. Filing Form I-751 (Petition to Remove the Conditions on Residence) within the 90 days before your card’s expiration and providing the required evidence is crucial.
Similarly, EB-5 investor green cards, issued to those who obtained status through financial investment, are also initially conditional. To remove the conditions and solidify your permanent status, file Form I-829 (Petition by Investor to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status) before your card expires.
While there is some flexibility, staying on top of the renewal process is key to avoiding difficult situations as a permanent resident.
Need help with your green card process? Reach out to Montavon McKillip Law!
Don’t let an expired green card impede your path to a secure and fulfilling American life. If you’re a green card holder, we can discuss your renewal options or help you become a naturalized US citizen. And if you’re a conditional green card holder, we can help you file to remove the conditions from your permanent residence.
Montavon McKillip Law focuses on helping LGBTQ+ and other clients with permanent residency, green card renewal, citizenship, and a host of other immigration matters.