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How to renew your green card in four easy steps

Photo courtesy Washington and Lee University.

Living in the United States as a permanent resident is a dream come true for many. However, this dream comes with a lot of responsibility. Permanent residents are required to have a valid green card anywhere they go. It is your responsibility to ensure that you have a valid green card, which means that you will have to renew it periodically. You can complete this task in 4 easy steps and can be done online.

Responsibilities of holding permanent residency

Many permanent residents are married to Americans born in the country or receive this status based on their employment. It is not the same as visiting or living temporarily in the U.S. with an extended visa.

Permanent residency status usually grants the naturalized long-term stay in the United States. You can hold down jobs, own an automobile, and do some activities that naturalized citizens Americans can do.

However, like many forms of identification, permanent residency cards (also called green cards) are not created for perpetuity. If you’re a green card holder, you’ll have to get it renewed according to the stipulations of your stay in the United States.

There are two types of permanent residents, conditional and lawful. Here are some of the main differences:

  • Conditional Permanent Residents – must have their green cards renewed every two years. This is granted to people who recently married an American spouse.
  • Lawful Permanent Residents – once in this category, the permanent resident can renew their green card every ten years. In some cases, the card may contain a longer date of validity.

Each residency status determines what should be done to review a green card.

Steps for renewal

If you’re a permanent resident and your renewal date is near or you have lost, damaged, or accidentally destroyed your green card, take the following steps:

1. File the paperwork electronically or by post

It’s much easier to handle a green card renewal online, so try this method unless you have no other choice than to file on paper. You must create a USCIS account to begin online renewal and will be updated on the website. You will receive access to the history of your previous USCIS filings.

2. Fill out Form I-90

This is on the USCIS website and can be submitted online. The form is alternatively known as I-797.

3. Have a receipt of your previous I-90

You’re required to turn this in for the USCIS to accept a renewal. It serves as evidence that you’re legally permitted to stay in the United States. If it’s been more than a year since your last green card expired, you can still renew. However, you’ll have to acquire additional proof of your permanent residency in this case. In short, hang on to any documents you already have.

4. Schedule a biometrics appointment

Permanent residents are required to have their fingerprints taken. To do this, the USCIS will issue you a biometric appointment notice. During this time, your current green card may have already expired.

You should notify the USCIS of this immediately. They can issue a receipt for you to append to your expired green card. It’s only temporary but serves as proof if you’re ever stopped or questioned by the authorities.

If your green card is expired, you can use either the receipt notice or a printout of your USCIS account showing your account status. This pertains to people who are registering for naturalization as well.

Common issues with green card renewals

One problem is the time it can take for the green card to reach the location of permanent residents. This can create issues, especially if the permanent resident is detained.

You must always keep your green card in your possession, and the temporary attachments are detailed in the previous section. Your card and the receipts regarding your status might take a while to come in the mail. You can contact the USCIS for more information.

It can be easier than you think

Overall, the process of renewing a green card is relatively easy. The average applicant will complete their filings and receive an updated card fast. However, if you are experiencing difficulties, an expert in the domain can offer further guidance.


Story by Mark Scott. With a law degree under his belt and years of experience, Mark Scott set off to make the law more accessible to all. He decided to help people lost in the maze of legal terminology to find their way. Mark writes clear and concise pieces and gives simple advice that is easy to follow. On account of positive feedback from readers, he decided to dedicate more of his time to this goal and became a legal columnist. In his writings, Mark covers a wide array of topics, like how to seek legal counsel, or how to deal with different procedures. Furthermore, he directs his readers toward other trustworthy resources for more in-depth information.

augusta free press
augusta free press
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