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The United States is one of the world’s leading travel destinations and, for many people across the globe, it represents the land of opportunities. However, the right to legally live and work takes more than just a plane ticket and your passport — this is where the Permanent Residency Card, popularly known as Green Card, comes in.
This document is valid for a period of 10 years — or 2 years if you are granted it on a conditional basis. While this might seem a bit daunting, chin up, you are allowed to renew your Green Card as many times as you need.
|📑 What will we cover in this article?|
As the validity period of your Green Card winds to a close, you must apply for a renewal in order to maintain a legal status in the US. The process is easy and straightforward in just four steps:
- Complete the required government form.
- Assemble all the requested supporting documents
- Pay the Green Card renewal fee
- File your Green Card renewal application with the US government
Firstly, you need to request and fill the Green Card renewal form: Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card (I-90), issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
The second step is to assemble documents that validate the information you have filled in the Form I-90. These vary depending on your status, circumstances or reasons surrounding your renewal request. You can find a list of these documents on the USCIS website.
It typically includes items such as your:
- A government-issued ID
- Copy of your previous Green Card issued to you (if any).
- Legal documents (If you have changed your name or gotten married since your last Green Card was issued, you are required to submit legal documents to show your new bio-data).
After you have reviewed the list of supporting documents, the next step is to pay the applicable fees. It includes the standard renewal fees as well as biometric capturing fees in some cases.
You can read more about the payment options later on.
After you’ve filled out the forms and gathered all supporting documents, it’s time to file your renewal with the USCIS.
When you are on American soil, you can easily download the requisite forms and fill them out duly. The filling process is then completed by uploading the documents online or by mailing in the forms through your desired postal service.
|Postal/Courier Service||USCIS Mailing Address|
|US Postal Service (USPS)|
|FedEx, DHL and UPS|
If your Green Card expires while you are outside the US, you may be denied entry into the US unless you are able to show proof that you have applied for a renewal.
As a result, provisions are available to help you facilitate your Green Card renewal while abroad.
If you travel out of the US and your Green Card is expired, you should notify the nearest US Consulate, Embassy, or port of entry. The officials will then guide you on the specific requirements for your renewal.
Your permanent resident card renewal form alone is not sufficient to complete the renewal process. There are certain crucial documents that you must submit along with it. These documents are meant to validate or back up the information that you have provided on the I-90 Form¹.
These required documents vary depending on your status and circumstances that surround your renewal request. If you are simply replacing your Green Card because it’s expiring, you are only obliged to include a copy of your old/existing Green Card.
However if you require a replacement for other reasons, your list of supporting documents might be a little longer.
Here’s a list of the possible reasons to file for a renewal of your permanent resident card and the corresponding required documents.
|Reason for renewal¹||Required documents|
|Your previous Green Card got lost, stolen, mutilated or destroyed.|
|You never received the Green Card that USCIS previously issued to you.|
|Your existing card has incorrect data due to an error made by the Department of Homeland Security||Original permanent resident card Proof of the correct bio-data|
|Your name or other bio-data has legally changed, or your card has incorrect data from an error that was not caused by the Department of Homeland Security||Provide appropriate legal documents that reflect correct bio-data Provide a copy of your permanent resident card|
|Existing Green Card has expired or will expire in less than six months||Copy of your expiring or Expired Green Card|
Applying for you Green Card renewal does not come cheap. So, it is important that you plan ahead for it.
On the average the Green Card renewal cost is about 550 USD. If you add the cost of getting some of the supporting documents and mailing fees the total cost can rise to well over 600 USD.
|Postal service (For mail or paper submission)||$10 - $50|
Note: these fees are set by the USCIS, and are often subject to change.
If you file your Form I-90 papers by mail you get to pay your fees with a money order, personal check or cashier’s check. All checks should be made payable to the US Department of Homeland Security.
If you choose to submit your Form I-90 online, you can pay these fees online using a Visa, MasterCard or American Express card.
You can also make your payments online seamlessly from anywhere in the US using Wise. The great thing about this option is that the transfers lightning quick. It is much faster and efficient than the issuing money orders or checks. In addition, it attracts lesser charges than your traditional card payment options.
Furthermore, if you are abroad, Wise is a great option that can really come in handy. You get to pay your fees using the mid-market exchange rate and will only be charged the amount you see on the screen.
|💡 Besides being a cool way to pay for your Green Card renewal fee, with Wise you can send money internationally while saving on overpriced SWIFT fees and markups on the exchange rate. All that in just a few clicks.|
In any case once the USCIS receives the payment, they will issue you a receipt. And if you can’t afford to pay the filing fee, you should notify the USCIS. If you are able to demonstrate financial incapacity, you may be able to get a waiver from the USCIS for the Form I-90³.
It is important to note that USCIS does not accept cash.
Ideally, you should begin the renewal process 6-months to the expiry of your current card. Many options are available to you to file for a renewal both online and offline.
Ordinarily the Green Card application renewal filing process may take only a few weeks. Especially if you have the supporting documents handy. However, it takes an average of 1.5 to 12 months for USCIS to send you your new Green Card⁵.
Ordinarily, you don’t require any legal representation to file your renewal to get a new permanent resident card. But if you can afford it, getting legal guidance can help you make sure that your application is filed completely and correctly from the get go.
However, if your application is denied for some major reasons, you may actually need to seek legal advice to file a strong appeal.
If you can’t afford to get a proper legal representation, you should check out the USA Government website. They provide links to pro-bono or low-cost legal-aid.
Having your application denied a second time can have dire consequences, even leading to deportation.
The USCIS doesn’t just rubber stamp every application that they receive. If the USCIS declines your Green Card renewal application, they will send you a clear explanation for it.
Some common reasons for Green Card application renewal are:
- Incorrect or incomplete fees
- Incomplete or inappropriate documentation
- Incorrect or incomplete entries on forms
- Intentionally lying on forms
- Using falsified supporting documents
- Unpaid taxes
- Applied too early
- Criminal history i.e. aggravated felony
- Terrorism links
- Violation of certain travel conditions
- Other administrative reasons
If your application is denied, this does not mean that you have to leave the US instantly.
In fact, if you believe that the USCIS dropped the ball and should have approved your application, you’ve got a few legal options at your disposal.
If the decline decision on your application can be reconsidered, the USCIS will state it on the denial notice. To appeal against the decline, you can proceed to submit a motion to the USCIS.
The USCIS will either grant your appeal request within 45 days of receiving it. Or, they will forward your request for reconsideration to the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) for further evaluation. The AAO typically makes a decision on appeals within six months⁴.
The US laws stipulate that you must be prepared to present a valid Green Card on-demand, to relevant law enforcement agents. Failure to do this is a punishable offence. You might be asked to pay a fine or go to jail for up to 30 days⁶. Worse still, you might be deported.
Likewise, with an invalid Green Card, it becomes almost impossible for you to get a job. Employers in the US are required by law to request the Green Card as part of the onboarding process for new employees.
Hence, it is crucial that you keep an eye on your Green Card validity. Make sure that you set aside adequate funds to pay the fees and begin filing at least six months before the expiration of your Green Card.
- USCIS - Form I-90
- USCIS - Fee schedule
- USCIS - Fee waiver
- USCIS - Appeals
- USCIS - Processing times
- US Immigration and Nationality Act
This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.
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