What Are My Options If My Green Card Expires?

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As you go through the hustle and bustle of your daily life living and working in Portland, Oregon, you may not have realized your green card will expire soon or worse yet, already expired.  This article will guide you on what your options may be if you are faced with a looming expiration deadline or if your card as already expired.

Unconditional Green Card Renewal:

First, it is important to understand that the permanent resident “green” card is only evidence of your lawful permanent resident status.  If you have an unconditional 10-year green card, even if the card expires itself, that does not mean that your resident status has terminated.  While you are required by law to have a valid permanent resident card, even if it expires, the card itself serves as evidence of your status, and does not terminate it automatically if the card expires and you fail to renew on time.  If your card is set to expire, you should definitely determine which options may be best for you.  You could either seek to renew your green card through applying for form I-90, apply for U.S. citizenship via form N-400, or both at the same time.  Often times, you may need proof of your status for work or travel purposes.  In this case, if your card has already expired, you can apply to renew your green card through form I-90, then contact USCIS to set up an appointment at a local field office in order to get a temporary stamp typically valid for up to a year as evidence of your permanent resident status.  In the meantime, currently at the USCIS field office located in NW Portland, citizenship applications have been scheduled much quicker than before.  This means that you may be able to apply for the N-400 citizenship and receive an interview date in a few months.  If your green card is expiring soon but you have several months left, the citizenship route may be your better option to save on the cost of additional filing fees applying for the I-90 green card renewal.

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Conditional Green Card (Removal of Conditions):

If you have a conditional green card based on marriage to a U.S. citizen, this is a much different scenario if either your card will be expiring soon, or it has already expired.  In the case of your card expiring soon, you should file form I-751 immediately to remove conditions on your 2-year green card residency based on marriage.  Depending on your situation, you may either need to file a joint petition with your U.S. citizen spouse, or if you have since separated, you may need to consider the option of filing a waiver of the joint filing requirement and still file the I-751 prior to expiration of your green card.  If the card has already expired, you will automatically lose your permanent resident status and become removable from the U.S.  This means that your failure to file on time will lead to a letter in the mail terminating your status and a subsequent notice to appear in immigration court.  All hope is not lost, although your options are limited.  If filing a joint petition, you were required to file with your spouse 90 days prior to expiration of your 2-year conditional resident green card.  Failure to do so may only be excused if failure to file was through no fault of your own, and you include a written explanation and request for USCIS to excuse your late filing.  You must demonstrate when you file the petition that the delay was due to extraordinary circumstances that at that time were beyond your control and the length of delay in filing was reasonable.  If you are requested to appear in Immigration Court, you may request the immigration judge to continue your hearings to later date as you await USCIS decision on your recently filed I-751 application.

If you are no longer together with your U.S. citizen spouse, you may still be able to file Form I-751 if you entered the marriage in good faith, but one of the following conditions apply: 1) your spouse subsequently died; 2) the marriage was later terminated due to divorce or annulment; 3) you have been battered or subject to extreme cruelty by your spouse; or 4) the termination of your status and removal from the U.S. would result in extreme hardship.  If you are still in the process of divorce, you can still apply but be prepared to be issued a Request for Evidence from USCIS which will request a copy of your final divorce decree.  You will need to be able to provide proof of final divorce before USCIS can approve your removal of condition application.

Based on the above, it is generally always a good idea to make sure you have valid proof of immigration status.  However, if you find that your card has already expired, there are various options still available to you but the important thing is to act quickly to find out what is the best route to take.

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