Green Card enables a person to live and work in the US permanently. It also authorizes the person to file for US citizenship after being a green card holder for 5 years (3 years for conditional resident).Green Cards that are issued currently are valid only for 10 years after which the permanent resident has to go in for green card renewal. Regardless of the way a person obtains a Green Card, every permanent resident gets to live in the US for an unlimited time period and pursue any activity of their desire (provided, it is a legal one!).
Even though the permanent resident status holds good for the entire life term of that person, it is mandatory to go in for green card renewal. It is the utmost responsibility of a permanent resident to ensure that he/she has a green card that is up to date with all the latest security features. The Green Card is an official documentation of the permanent residency status and is synonymous to an identification card and
Importance of GreenCard Renewal
It is essential that Green Card holders who are over 18 yrs of age carry a valid Green Card with them at all times. Section 264 of the Immigration and Nationality Act stresses the importance of Green Card renewal. It states that, “Every alien, eighteen years of age and over, shall at all times carry with him and have in his personal possession any certificate of alien registration or alien registration receipt card issued to him..” and “ ..Any alien who fails to comply with [these provisions] shall be guilty of a misdemeanor”.
In case a person is found to be with an outdated or expired green card, it will lead to them being convicted with 30 days in jail, a penalty of up to $100, or both of these. The US government has enforced strict adherence to the green card renewal process after the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Another reason which stresses the need of going in for Green Card renewal is the role which it plays during international travel of the Green Card holder. A person with a valid and updated Green Card will find no difficulty in re-entering the US after an international travel. A US passport is only secondary as the Green Card alone will suffice for re-entry.
Green Card Renewal Process
Form I-90 has to be filed for both Green Card renewal and replacement. It is essential that applications for Green Card renewal should be filed in 6 months prior to the date of expiry of the card. Failing to do so will lead to the application being rejected by the USCIS. However, Green Card renewal applications that are received after the expiration of the Green Card will not be subjected to any penalization.
There is no such thing as Green Card renewal for conditional residents. All they can do is file a different application to remove the conditions within the 90 days before the expiry of their conditional green card.
A person cannot lose the Permanent Residency status easily without doing something intentionally to renounce it. Green Card renewal enables a Lawful Permanent Resident to maintain a current documentation of his/her valid residency status and a majority of them are quite happy with this. What they tend to overlook is the fact that they cannot exercise their votes and elect their representatives with the permanent resident status. After being a permanent resident for 5 years (3years for conditional residents) , they can think about the next step of becoming a US citizen.