If you are on this page, you most probably know that officially referred to as the “I-551 Permanent Resident Card”, your Green Card serves as proof of your permanent residence status in the U.S. As a rule, you need to renew your Green Card every 10 years. There are however circumstances when you have to replace your card. The following article will help you figure out the difference. We will make sense of the procedures: how to file online or by mail, what to do if your Green Card expired or will expire within the next six months. We will also cover Green Card renewal in terms of what kind of documents you will need, how long will the process take, how much does it cost, and more.

When do I need to get a new card?

Most of the time you must renew your Permanent Resident Card every 10 years. There can be an exception when the card expires if you get a conditional Green Card. In this case, your card is good to go only for two years. To remove the conditions on your permanent resident status, you must initiate this process within the 90-day period before your Green Card expiration date.

There are also rules when to file an application to replace Permanent Resident Card.

If you are a lawful permanent resident, you have to replace your Green Card if:

  • Your card was lost, stolen, mutilated, or destroyed
  • Replace the Permanent Resident Card if it contains incorrect information
  • Yo changed your name or other biographic information
  • You became a permanent resident before you turned 14 years old, you are required to file for a new card when you become 14 years old
  • Green Card expired or will expire within the next six months;
  • Permanent Residents changing their status from residing to commuter status and reverse;
  • Your status has been automatically converted to permanent resident status (e.g. in the case of special agricultural workers)
  • You have a previous version of the alien registration card, which are no longer valid and must be replaced with a current Green Card;
  • You never received the previous card issued

Notice that any card that prooves status of lawful permanent residents is called alien registration card, be it green card or a permanent visa.

Why do I need a current Green Card?

Make sure you keep your card up-to-date. When your card expires, you may have difficulties proving that you are a permanent resident. This could also affect your ability to travel or to prove that you are eligible to work in the United States. You don’t lose your permanent resident status, but you might get into trouble if USCIS discovers that you have violated the law requiring you to carry a valid card with you.

What should I do with my expired Green Card?

For permanent residents that want to replace a Green Card with a brand new one, you should begin with filing “Form I-90 – Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card“. You can file online via USCIS’s official website or by paper (via mail).

At this point, after achieving this immigration status, you are probably familiar with the USCIS – a government agency that deals with immigration services. An application to renew your Green Card has to also be filed to this institution. It is a good idea to establish a USCIS online account, no matter by which route you decide to submit an official government form. This account may help you to check and track your case status.

For filling online:

  1. Create a USCIS online account
  2. Submit evidence and supporting documents
  3. Pay filing fee
  4. You will get a receipt notice
  5. Receive case status updates about your case
  6. Respond to requests when you get this notice
  7. Wait for your new Green Card

For filing by paper:

  1. Download I-90 form
  2. Fill it in electronically
  3. Print it
  4. Sign it (in ink)
  5. Attach evidence and supporting documents
  6. Mail your application
  7. Wait for your new Green Card

Note: You cannot file Form I-90 online, if you are applying for a fee waiver. If you feel uncertain about your eligibility, you can always reach out to professional immigration services like us.

Filing online vs. filing by paper

To add a dash of otherwise necessary dramaturgy, you should know that the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General (DHS OIG) in its November 2016 report concluded that over the past three years, USCIS issued at least 19,000 green cards with incorrect information, or were issued as a duplicate. In most cases, this involved forms submitted through the online system.

Over the same three-year period, USCIS received over 200,000 notifications from approved applicants concerning missing green cards, partly as a result of cards being sent to wrong addresses.

Writing this, we prepared you a quick matrix, which shows the differences between filing official government forms by paper and online submission. It may help you to determine, which option you feel comfortable with.

Good news: Even if you filed your application by paper, you can still create your USCIS online account to receive updates.

For more convenience, we recommend having a USCIS account with the government official website. You can check the status not only when you replace your Green Card, but also for other official government proceedings, like those related to: U.S. Citizenship, Alien Registration Number, or other lawful permanent resident status processes.

What do I need to renew my Green Card?

The application is filed through one of the agencies of the Department of Homeland Security – USCIS. In most cases, you need only to provide a copy of your expired green card as proof that you qualify for renewal. If you need to replace your green card for a different reason — for example, if it was lost, stolen, or damaged — you’ll need to provide other documentation. With your lawful permanent resident status, you can renew or replace your expired Green Card either online or by submitting an application online. Required evidence depends for example on Application Type.

IMPORTANT: If you want to file online, always remember to share sensitive information only on official government, secure websites.

You must read the instructions attached, as they would tell you if either you need to provide proof of your U.S. address and what types of documents will work as evidence for your application. In Question 1, you need to check a box stating whether you either are a lawful permanent resident, a permanent resident in commuter status (you live near the U.S. border in either Canada or Mexico and have a special green card that allows you to travel back and forth), or a conditional resident (in this case you will need to check a specific list to determine if you use this form to deal with the expiration of your card).

Rule of thumb: The categories you choose in your I-90 application to replace or renew your Green Card, will determine what documents you need to include as evidence, which documents are described in USCIS’s instructions.

We can help you choose which supporting documents to submit with your specific Form I-90 application.

How much does it cost to renew my Green Card in 2021?

The cost of your green card renewal varies

From $85 for applications you submit, where you have reached your 14th birthday, and your existing card will expire after your 16th birthday,

To $540 with a full form filing fee and biometric services fee. Basically, the total cost to renew or replace your Green Card depends on the Reason for Application, Form Fee, ad if the Biometric Services are required.

The Filing of Form I-90 cost is $455, however, a biometric services fee of $85 may also be required. If you wish to file your Form I-90 by paper, you may pay with a money order, personal check, cashier’s check, or by credit card, using the designated form. If you pay by check, you must make your check payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. When you send a payment, you agree to pay for government service. Filing and biometric service fees are not subject to refund, regardless of any action USCIS takes on your application or if you withdraw your request. Exceptions to this rule are as follows: when you are filing Form I-90 because you never received your new Green Card, (no fee as long as USCIS mailed the card more than 30 days ago), it was returned to USC as undeliverable, you haven’t moved from the address you provided in your file.

Tip: Use fees calculator from USCIS official website to determine total amount, or contact us.

How long does it take for Permanent Resident Card Renewal?

After USCIS receives your Form I-90 with all required evidence, you will get a confirming receipt notice, biometric services notice (if applicable), notice to appear for an interview, if needed, and finally notice of USCIS decision. At the moment, the green card renewal timeline for lawful permanent residents is approximately 10 to 12 months. Please keep in mind, that poorly prepared applications or ones that contain incorrect information can result in longer processing times. In such cases, it is an especially good idea to hire a law firm that will deal with the Department of Homeland Security or any other government body.

Good news:

Even if your Green Card Renewal takes ages, you can still get temporary proof of permanent resident status for going outside the United States, employment, and other purposes.

In a separate article, we will take a closer look at a Replacing a Lost, Stolen, or Damaged Green Card.

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