Renewing your “Green Card”

When someone has received their “Legal Permanent Residence” (AKA Green Card Status, AKA Residency, AKA “Their Papers” they will receive a card that looks like the picture here. This card is good for 10 years and acts as the proof of residency status. When this card expires, someone’s status as a “Legal Permanent Resident” does NOT expire. Only the proof of their status expires. Within 6 months of the expiration of this card, the resident can file to renew their green card status. Renewing is done through USCIS, and is typically done online or via mail. This is a process that currently can last from 11-13 months currently (as of 04/09/2020). Therefore, it is best to file for renewal as early as possible.

If you have a “Green Card” that is only valid for 2 years, this is because you are a “Conditional Resident.” Conditional residency is given to spouses who have only been married less than 2 years at the time of the filing of their visa petitions. In this case, the card is only good for 2 years, and you MUST file to remove the conditions on your residency within 90 days of the expiration of the card. If you fail to do so, you risk losing your status and being sent to immigration court for removal (deportation) proceedings. We will discuss conditional residence in depth in a future article, but for now, just know that this is different than the 10-year green card and you must renew within 90 days of it’s expiration.

What to be aware of when renewing your residency: #

Criminal History: There are many things that can cause issues for someone who needs to renew their residency if they have been convicted of a crime at any time in their life. In some cases, immigration authorities have tried to remove an individual from the US, years after they were convicted of a crime, and sometime when the crime occurred before they had their US Residency. It is a good idea to review any criminal history with your attorney before renewing if this applies to you. Even things like misdemeanors, domestic violence convictions or assault convictions can cause someone to be removable from the US.

Long Absences From the US: If you are a “Legal Permanent Resident” you must be sure to maintain that residency. If you are outside of the US for more than 6 months at a time, the government may consider you to have abandoned your residency and you can be sent to immigration court. While this is more of a consideration for those who desire to file for US Citizenship, it is important to know that as a resident, you may be unable to re-enter the US normally if you have been gone too long.

It might be time to file for US Citizenship: If you become a US Citizen, you will not need to file to renew your “Green Card”. If you are looking to renew your green card, considering the cost and the time and the additional benefits of US Citizenship, it may be advantageous to file for US Citizenship INSTEAD of renewing your residency permit.

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