According to official USCIS information, green card renewal can take between 11.5 to 13 months.
The time it takes varies according to a number of factors, including:
- Whether you have properly completed all forms;
- Whether you have properly submitted all supporting documents;
- The scheduling of your biometric appointment; and
- The current workload of the USCIS.
You can track the status of your green card renewal application through the Case Status Tracking Tool on the USCIS website.
Do Green Card Expire?
Under most circumstances, your green card is valid for 10 years.
Federal law requires you to renew your green card before it expires.
This article only discusses the standard issued green cards that expire after 10 years.
If you were issued a conditional green card, you need to remove conditions by filing the following forms:
- Form I-751 (Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence), or
- Form I-829 (Petition by Investor to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status).
When Do I Need to Renew My Green Card?
Unless your green card was issued with conditions (marriage or entrepreneurship based, for example), your green card is valid for 10 years.
It is your responsibility to renew your green card through USCIS application process.
USCIS suggests you start the process of renewing your green card six months before the expiration date listed on your card.
How Do I Renew My Green Card?
Renewing your green card begins with USCIS Form I-90 (Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card).
Within 1-3 weeks after filing your I-90 application, USCIS will mail you Form I-797C (Notice of Action).
This form will tell you that USCIS has received your I-90 application.
If USCIS finds an error in your I-90 application, or if USCIS wants you to supply more information or documents, you will be sent another letter describing what you need to do.
Next, you are required to undergo a biometric appointment.
You will be required to submit your fingerprints, new photos will be taken, and a fresh background check will be performed.
Only then will USCIS complete the processing of your I-90 application and issue you a new or renewed green card.
If your application is approved, you will be notified and your renewed green card will be mailed to you.
What Are the Fees to Renew My Green Card?
The following fees apply to Form I-90.
|USCIS Form I-90 Fees|
|Reason for Application||Form Fee||Biometric Fee||Total|
|Renewal (card expires within 6 months)||$455.00||$85.00||$540.00|
|14th Birthday (reached 14th birthday, and green card expires after 16th birthday)||$0.00||$85.00||$85.00|
|14th Birthday (have reached 14th birthday, and green card expires before 16th birthday)||$455.00||$85.00||$540.00|
Note: Filing fees and biometric services fees are non refundable, regardless of any action taken by USCIS on your application.
The filing and biometric fees can be waived if inability to pay is demonstrated.
In this case, applicants should file Form I-912 (Request for Fee Waiver) with Form I-90.
Form I-90 Processing Time
|Form type||Application center||Processing time|
|10-year renewal||Potomac Service Center||12 Months to 13 Months|
|Initial issuance or replacement||Potomac Service Center||6.5 Months to 11.5 Months|
What Happens If I Don’t Renew My Green Card?
If your green card expires, you do not lose your permanent resident status.
Your green card is only a source of identification.
You show your green card to prove you are:
- a lawful permanent resident
- authorized to live and work in the United States.
Your green card has no effect on your status as a lawful permanent resident.
However, this does not mean that you should not renew your green card.
Beyond an important source of identification, there are other reasons to keep your green card valid.
These reasons are listed below:
You Cannot Get a Job with an Expired Green Card
Federal law requires all employers to verify that you are authorized to work in the United States.
Your current or future employer cannot accept an expired green card as proof that you are authorized to work.
You Cannot Obtain a Professional License
Many occupations require a license to perform a service or function (including real estate agents, insurance agents, various brokers, healthcare, law, and others).
In most states, if you were required to have a green card to get a license, you must keep your green card to keep your license.
Therefore, keeping your job with an expired green card will be impossible in certain professions.
You May Not Be Able to Reenter the United States
Traveling outside the United States without a valid green card can be risky.
For example, everyone who enters the U.S. through any port of entry must show proof of citizenship, lawful residence, parole document, or a valid visa.
Without a valid green card, you cannot prove lawful permanent residency and can be denied entry.
You May Not Be Able to Buy a House
In most circumstances, buying a house requires you to apply for a loan.
However, in the loan application process, you will be required to prove U.S. citizenship or lawful permanent residency.
Without a valid green card, you cannot prove lawful permanent residency and you will be denied a loan.
You May Not Be Able to Obtain or Renew Your Driver License
In most states, to obtain or renew your driver’s license you must prove that you are either a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident.
Without a valid green card, you cannot prove lawful permanent residency and be denied your driver’s license.
What if I Need to Travel Outside the United States Before My Green Card is Renewed?
Every non-citizen (including those admitted as green card permanent residents) is subject to inspection at a point of entry upon their return to the U.S.
If the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer deems you inadmissible for any reason you will be denied entry into the U.S.
If you must travel outside the United States, it is essential to know what documents are needed for you to reenter.
A valid (non-expired) green card is the most important document.
As a lawful permanent resident, the documents required to reenter the United States depends on how long you were gone:
|Documents Required to Renter the United States|
|How Long Were You Outside the United States?||Document Required for Reentry|
|Less than one year||Valid green card (Form I-551)|
|More than one year but less than two years||Reentry Permit (Form I-327)|
|More than two years||Returning Resident Visa (SB-1)|
Reentry Permit (Form I-327)
If you are traveling abroad for more than one year but less than two years, you are required to have a reentry permit to return to the United States.
A Reentry Permit (Form I-327) allows a lawful permanent resident (green card holder) to reenter the United States without having to obtain a returning resident visa.
To apply for a reentry permit, you must file Form I-131 (Application for Travel Document) with USCIS.
You must be physically present in the United States when you file your I-131 application.
Moreover, to process your I-131 application, you must have completed your biometrics services appointment.
Thus, you must apply and complete all biometrics before you travel outside the United States.
Note: You must be in the United States when you file your I-131 application and complete biometric services.
But your reentry permit can be sent to a U.S. Embassy, U.S. Consulate, or a foreign Office of the Department of Homeland Security for you to pick up if you make the request on your I-131 application.
A reentry permit does not exempt you from U.S. immigration legal requirements.
If you have a valid, unexpired reentry permit, your travel abroad will not be considered an abandonment of your status as a lawful permanent resident for naturalization purposes.
However, an absence of one year or more from the United States will generally break the continuous residence requirement for naturalization.
If you intend to stay outside the U.S. for one year or more, you may be eligible to file Form I-470 (Application to Preserve Residence for Naturalization Purposes).
In general, a reentry permit issued to a lawful permanent resident is valid for two years after its issue date.
If you have been outside the United States for more than four of the last five years, your reentry permit will only be valid for one year.
This one year permit may be extended to two years if you can show:
- Your traveling is the result of an order of the U.S. Government other than for exclusion, deportation, removal, or rescission; or
- Your traveling is the result of your employment by a public international organization of which the United States is a member by treaty or statute; or
- Your traveling is because you are a professional athlete and compete regularly in the United States and abroad.
You will not be issued a reentry permit if:
- You have already been issued a reentry permit and this permit is still valid unless this earlier permit has been returned to the USCIS or you can prove that it has been lost; or
- A notice has been published in the Federal Register that precludes the issuance of such a permit to the travel location.
Form I-131 (Application for Travel Document)
To obtain a reentry permit you must complete and submit Form I-131 (Application for Travel Document) with USCIS.
To obtain a reentry permit, you must be in the United States when you file your I-131 application.
You must submit the following evidence with your I-131 application:
- A photocopy of the front and back of your green card (Form I-551, Permanent Residence Card); or
- If you have not yet received your green card, a copy of the barometric pages of your passport and a copy of the visa page, or other evidence that you are a lawful permanent resident; or
- A copy of the Form I-797 (Notice of Action) stating that you have filed an I-90 application to renew your green card (this Notice of Action temporarily serves as evidence of your status as a lawful permanent resident).
All applicants for a reentry permit must complete biometrics at a USCIS Application Support Center (ASC) in the United States.
If you are between the ages of 14 and 79, you must be fingerprinted as part of the biometrics requirement.
After you have filed your I-131 application, you will be notified of your biometrics services appointment.
Failure to appear at your biometrics appointment will result in your I-131 application being denied.
Form I-131 Fees
The filing fees for Form I-131 are as follows:
|USCIS Form I-131 Fees|
|Age of I-131 Applicant||I-131 Fee||Biometric Services||Total|
|13 years or younger||$575.00||$0.00||$575.00|
|14 to 79 years||$575.00||$85.00||$660.00|
|80 years or older||$575.00||$0.00||$575.00|
Note: Filing fees and biometric services fees are non-refundable, regardless of any action taken by USCIS on your application.
The filing and biometric fees can be waived based upon a demonstrated inability to pay.
In this case, applicants should file Form I-912 (Request for Fee Waiver) when filing Form I-131.
How Long Does It Take?
USCIS states that the processing time for an I-131 application is:
|USCIS Form I-131 Processing Time|
|USCIS Field Office or Service Center Processing Application||Processing Time|
|California Service Office||3 to 5 months|
|National Benefits Center||8 to 10 months|
|Nebraska Service Center||4 to 5.5 months|
|Texas Service Center||3 weeks to 5 months|
|Vermont Service Center||5 to 7 months|
You can track the status of your I-131 application through the Case Status Tracking Tool on the USCIS website.
Returning Resident (SB-1) Visa
If you have traveled outside the United States for more than two years, or your reentry permit has expired before you returned to the U.S., you are required to obtain a SB-1 (Returning Resident) visa.
To obtain a SB-1 visa, you must file Form DS-117 (Application to Determine Returning Resident Status) with the U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consulate in the country you are visiting.
If your application for returning resident status is approved, you will not be required to apply for an immigration visa with the USCIS.
A SB-1 returning resident visa requires you to be interviewed at a local U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
You will also be required to undergo a new immigrant medical examination.
To qualify for returning resident status, you must prove:
- That you were a lawful permanent resident when you departed the United States and you have not abandoned your permanent resident status; and
- That you are returning to the United States from a temporary visit, and the reason you had overstayed longer than two years was beyond your control.
What if My Green Card Expires While I’m Outside the United States?
Because you have to be physically in the United States when applying for the renewal of your green card, applying from abroad is not an option.
However, depending on your specific circumstances, you may still have options.
Outside the United States for One-Year or Less
If your green card expires and you have been outside the U.S. for less than one year, you will (absent inadmissibility) be allowed to return to the United States.
One problem will likely be your transportation back to the U.S.
For example, international transportation companies (airlines and ships) are required to verify that you have some type of documentation that authorizes your entry into the United States (citizenship, green card, visa, parole document, etc.).
Without a valid green card, your carrier may not allow you to board their vessel, be it a ship or airplane.
Regardless, United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) policy permits a transportation carrier bound for the United States to board a permanent resident with an expired green card if:
- You have an expired green card with a 10-year expiration date; or
- You have an expired green card and Form I-797 (Notice of Action) showing that you have filed Form I-90 and completed your biometrics services in the United States (remember, this Notice of Action extends the expiration date of your green card).
If you have either of these documents, you should be allowed to board a vessel and return to the United States.
However, if your carrier refuses and requires you to produce a valid green card, you can file form I-131A (Application for Travel Document Carrier Documentation) with the local U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consulate.
Form I-131A filing fee is $575.
You can pay this filing fee online from anywhere in the world, using a credit or debit card or U.S. bank account.
Port of Entry
While you will likely be permitted to board a vessel and return to the U.S., you should expect complications at an entry port.
The port of entry CBP officer has total discretion in determining whether you are allowed to enter the United States.
You may be required to file Form I-90 (Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card) and pay a reentry fee.
Outside the United States for More than One-Year
If you were outside the U.S. for more than one year when your green card expired presents more of a challenge for you.
Under U.S. immigration law, a permanent resident who has been outside the United States for more than one year is considered to have abandoned his or her permanent resident status.
Thus, unless you fall within one of the exceptions below, you will not be considered a permanent resident.
If before leaving the U.S. you filed Form I-131 (Application for Travel Document) and obtained a reentry permit (Form I-327), you can use this valid unexpired reentry permit to gain entry into the United States upon your return.
Returning Resident Visa
If the reasons for your stay outside the U.S. were due to extraordinary circumstances beyond your control, you can apply for a SB-1 Returning Resident Visa from a local U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consulate.
The process for obtaining these SB-1 visas are different for each Embassy, so it is important for you to contact the local Embassy for the proper process.
New Immigration Visa
If you did not apply for a reentry permit and are not eligible for a returning resident visa, you may be required to apply for a new immigration visa once again.
This process begins with family member sponsorship through Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative).