The United States is considered a land of opportunities, and many people immigrate to the country to achieve the American dream. Obtaining a Green Card (known officially as a Permanent Resident Card or Form I-551) allows you to live and work in the US permanently. But what happens if you lose or damage your Green Card? You’ll need to file Form I-90 Green Card renewal or replacement.
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) issues a wide range of immigration papers to suit applicants’ current circumstances. If you’re a current green card holder, it’s critical to understand the procedure and documents required for renewing or replacing the card.
That’s why the immigration lawyers from Abogados Centro Legal took the time to provide valuable insights into Green Card renewal. In this article, we’ll cover the following:
- What is Form-190 and its uses?
- The importance of Green Card renewal
- Reasons for Green Card renewal or replacement
- Who needs to replace their Green Card?
- How to replace a Green Card
- How much does it cost to replace a Green Card?
- Why hire an immigration attorney for Green Card renewal or replacement?
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
So, let’s jump into that…
What is USCIS Form I-90?
Form I-90 (officially known as “Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card”) is the application form used to renew or replace Green Card. Current cardholders must file Form I-90 with the USCIS to renew their expired or soon-to-expire cards. You can also use it to replace a lost, stolen, destroyed, or damaged green card.
The Importance of Green Card Renewal
The Green Card proves an individual’s legal permanent-resident status to live and work in the US. The card is issued by the USCIS and is valid for ten years. According to immigration laws, Green Card holders are required to renew their cards every ten years before they expire.
Typically, the USCIS indicates the expiration date on the Green Card to prevent any form of tampering or counterfeiting and to ensure inadmissible persons are brought to their attention.
Reasons for Green Card Renewal or Replacement
Although individuals with expired Green Cards don’t lose their legal status in the US, they are required to have their Permanent Resident Cards at all times to prove their legal statuses. It’s crucial to renew an expired or soon-expiring Green Card because failure to do so may restrict you from accessing various opportunities, including:
- Employment opportunities
- Accessing public benefits
- Traveling abroad and back into the US
While the USCIS doesn’t impose penalties against any individual with an expired green card, it’s recommended that you renew it in time to avoid difficulties. The immigration laws specify that any green card with six months remaining on the validity period must be renewed by filing Form I-90.
Who Needs to Replace their Green Card?
The following circumstances may force you to replace your Green Card:
- Your Green Card was stolen, lost, damaged, or destroyed
- You obtained your Green Card before you turned 14; you’re now 14 years and your card will expire after turning 16
- Your Green Card contains incorrect information (for example, the wrong date of birth or last name)
- You never received your original Green Card
How to Replace a Green Card
You’ll need to file Form I-90 to replace your Green Card, according to the nationwide immigration attorneys at Urbina Law Firm. Green Card holders can only file the form from within the US, so if you’re traveling outside the country, you’ll have to wait till you return to request a Green Card replacement or renewal. Suppose you lose your card while traveling abroad; in that case, you have to take extra steps to reenter the United States.
Replacing a Green Card within the US
You can file Form I-90 online or by mail. Whichever option you choose, you must meet the following requirements:
- Complete Form I-90
- Review and sign the form
- Submit the form with all the supporting documents
- Pay the filing fee (which is discussed below)
The supporting documents you use depend on your reason for replacing your Green Card, but you usually need:
- A copy (or original copy) of your Green Card
- A copy of a government-issued ID (such as a driver’s license)
- Proof of your immigration status and biographical details
Replacing a Green Card Outside the US
The process of replacing a Green Card outside the US is a bit complicated. You’ll need to be in the country to file Form I-90, but you’ll first need to take a few extra steps.
If you’ve lost your Green Card while traveling abroad, you should first notify the local police, obtain a police report, and contact your nearest US embassy or consulate for further instructions.
If you need to travel back to the US, you’ll need to apply for a “boarding foil” – the document that tells international carriers that you’re allowed to enter the United States. You can apply for the boarding foil by filing Form I-131A (officially known as “Application for a Travel Document”) and paying an application fee of $575.
How Much Does it Cost to Replace a Green Card?
The standard cost of replacing a Green Card replacement is $455 and $85 for biometric services, bringing the total to $540. Depending on your circumstances, you may not have to pay the fee. In other situations, you may only be required to pay only the biometrics fee.
Why Hire an Immigration Attorney for Green Card Renewal or Replacement?
Although the immigration regulations are lenient to individuals with expired Green Cards, there’s a chance you may be charged with a misdemeanor, which can range from a fine to jail time or both. Besides, you can’t travel outside the US without a valid Green Card; neither can you find employment nor housing opportunities.
It’s critical to work with an immigration attorney to avoid these difficulties. A lawyer understands the Green Car replacement process and can ensure your renewal paperwork is prepared and filed correctly, thus expediting the desired outcome.
If your first filing to replace your Green Card is denied, it means your filing fee is lost. Additionally, mistakes and missteps in the filing process may trigger enforcement action against you, leading to removal or deportation from the US.
A knowledgeable and experienced immigration lawyer can answer any questions you have about green card renewal or replacement. They can also provide quality representation to petition any legal action taken against you.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How many times can I renew my Green Card?
There are no limits to the number of times you can replace or renew your Green Card. Generally, you’re required to renew it after expiration or six months before the expiry date. You can also replace it if you lose your card.
Can I travel while waiting for my Green Card renewal?
If you’re a current Green Card holder, you’re free to travel outside the US and back in most cases. Nonetheless, if your Green Card expires while traveling abroad, you won’t be able to file Form I-90 until you reenter the country.
What’s the timeline for Green Card replacement?
Once you file Form I-90, your renewal or replacement approval will take about two to four months. That’s an approximation because some applicants have received their Green Cards after one month of filing.