The Green Card Renewal Process, From Start To Finish

Aug 17, 2023 | Immigration

There are millions of people living in America with green cards, or permanent resident status. Green card holders come from all over the world with the goal to live, work, and build a life in the United States. Green cards also act as a form of government-issued identification for permanent residents, and is the document that gets you back into the country if you travel abroad. Green cards must be renewed every 10 years in general, but there are also other reasons why a permanent resident may need to renew. Failing to renew or not renewing at the appropriate time could lead to negative consequences. In this blog, we’ll be taking an in-depth look at each step of the renewal process from start to finish, as well as other crucial information that anyone looking to renew their green card should be aware of. 

Why Would Someone Need To Renew Their Green Card?

There are a few circumstances under which a permanent resident might need to renew their green card. They are:

  • The green card is an older version and does not have an expiration date
  • The expiration date is approximately 6 months away
  • The green card expiration date has already passed
  • The green card is lost
  • The resident received their green card before their 14th birthday and have now turned 14
  • There are mistakes on the green card
  • They changed their name or gender and it does not match their current green card

Green Card Renewal Steps

If you belong to any of the above groups, you likely need to renew your green card. An experienced immigration attorney can help you through the process and ensure that you have followed through with each step correctly. There are two ways that you can apply: online or by mail. Certain categories of applicants must file by mail, while others have the option to file online. You must file by mail if:

  • You’re applying for a fee waiver
  • Your green card was issued but you never received it
  • Your green card contains errors made by the USCIS
  • You received a 10-year green card before age 14, and it will not expire before you turn 16

Renewal Step 1: Complete An Application

The first step in the renewal process is to complete the application, which is called Form I-90 (note: Form I-90 is only for renewal applicants who have a 10-year card, and is not for applicants who have a conditional 2-year card). If you are completing the application online, you must first create an account with the USCIS. If completing by mail, you will download the form from the USCIS website. There are 8 parts to the form, which are:

  1. Information about you
  2. Application type
  3. Processing information
  4. Accommodations for individuals with disabilities and/or impairments

  5-7. Applicant’s statement, contact information, certification, and signature

     8.   Additional Information 

Renewal Step 2: Gather Your Supporting Documents

Along with Form I-90, you will also submit supporting documents. Again, if you are completing online, you will upload a scan of these documents, and if you are completing by mail, you will submit photocopies. For most people who are renewing simply because their current green card is about to expire, the only supporting document you need to submit is your current (or expired) green card. If you are renewing for another reason, you may need to supply other types of documents. 

Renewal Step 3: Pay The Fees

Technically, there are two fees associated with renewing your green card: the I-90 filing fee, and the biometric services fee. You may also apply for a fee waiver, which is called Form I-912. 

Renewal Step 4: Submit Your Application 

If submitting online, you will simply hit “submit.” If submitting by mail, you will address it to the USCIS office. 

Step 5: Attend Your Biometrics Appointment

Within 1-2 weeks of receiving your application, the USCIS will send you a letter that instructs you on where and when you will complete your biometric screening. At the appointment, they will take your fingerprints, photo, and signature. 

Step 6: Receive Your Decision Letter

The USCIS will inform you of whether your application was approved or denied. The current processing time is around 2-12 months for renewals, and 6-13 months for replacements. 

Common Reasons For Being Denied Renewal And What You Can Do About It

There are several instances in which your renewal may be denied. They are:

  • You committed a crime worthy of deportation
  • You failed to pay your taxes
  • You stayed abroad for longer than a year
  • You failed to follow the instructions on the application correctly
  • You filed the wrong form
  • You lied on your application

In this case, you may be able to file an appeal or motion with the USCIS, but it is in your best interest to seek the assistance of a skilled immigration attorney if you decide to do so. They will be the best source of aid due to their extensive knowledge of immigration laws and the experience they have in dealing with the USCIS, especially when it comes to application denials. 

Should I Renew My Green Card Or Pursue Citizenship?

Unfortunately, only you can answer that question. Your immigration status – or your desire to change it – is an extremely personal decision that only you can make. If you are feeling stuck and unable to make a final decision, it may behoove you to consider what you would gain by becoming a citizen, and then consider whether or not it is worth going through the long and complicated naturalization process. Some things to think about are:

  • The fees: applying for citizenship requires a one-time fee, while renewing your green card requires paying a fee each time. In addition, USCIS fees for all manner of applications are increasing on a regular basis
  • Citizenship cannot be taken away and you cannot be deported once you are naturalized
  • You will have more rights as a citizen, such as the right to vote 

Call The Santos Law Offices, P.A. For Answers To All Of Your Immigration Questions

Whether you are renewing your green card or have decided to pursue citizenship, the attorneys at our firm are here to help you navigate the process successfully. Call today to schedule your free consultation and learn more about the high-quality service we provide to clients. 

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