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Green Card Renewals: Answers to Common Concerns

New-US-Green-Card.jpg.bmpThis post is meant to answer some of the most common questions I get as an Austin immigration attorney in the topic of green card renewals.

When should I renew my green card?

You may renew your green card up to six months in advance of the expiration of the card. Failing to renew your green card may cause you difficulties in obtaining employment and will absolutely cause problems when you try to re-enter the United States after traveling abroad. Although you may renew up to 6 months in advance, it is not required. You may choose to renew 2 months in advance instead. It is always best to renew before the card expires.

As an Austin immigration lawyer, the most frequent question I get asked is: Will I lose my permanent resident status if I fail to renew my green card?

There may be other reasons that may cause you to lose your permanent resident status. But failing to renew your green card alone is not a reason to lose your status. However, you are required by law to carry proof of your permanent resident status at all times, and it is always best to renew your green card as quickly as possible.

What happens if my green card expires while I’m waiting for USCIS to process my green card renewal petition?

You will not be able to travel abroad on an expired green card. However, after you attend your biometrics appointment (required for green card renewals), you can make an Info Pass appointment at your local USCIS office and ask for a temporary green card to be stamped on your passport or request a temporary document showing proof of residency to allow you to travel abroad. You will not be able to travel with the USCIS receipt letter alone.

What happens if I need to renew my green card but I can’t afford to pay the fee required?

If you can’t afford to pay the renewal fee, you can ask USCIS to waive the fee. To ask for a waiver, you will have to submit evidence of your need for a waiver of the fees. There are no clear rules on who qualifies, but you’ll have the best chance if you provide a letter and evidence explaining the need.

What should I do if my green card is lost or damaged?

If your green card is lost or damaged, you should file a petition for replace the green card.

I am a permanent resident. How long can I stay out of the U.S.?

As a green card holder, you are entitled to travel. However, there are limitations for how long any given trip can be. Generally, trips that will last about a year will require a “Re-Entry Permit.” The Re-Entry Permit will prevent you from loosing your permanent resident status. However, long trips outside of the United States (especially those lasting more than 6 months) will affect your ability to apply for naturalization and become a U.S. Citizen. Some permanent residents may be able to file a petition to preserve residence for naturalization purposes. If you plan to take lengthy trips outside of the U.S. while you have permanent resident status, you should meet with an immigration lawyer before your trip abroad.

Understanding the consequences of travel and the terms of your permanent resident card will avoid costly, stressful, and time-consuming issues in the future.


The Lyttle Law Firm, PLLC handles immigration cases nationwide. If you have a case you would like us to review, please call us for a consultation. Our consults are very informative and will provide you with the information you need to proceed with your case. Call us at (512) 329-2770.