One common misconception that many permanent residents believe is that permanent residence expires when their cards expire. This is not necessarily accurate. It is true that conditional permanent residents are in serious jeopardy of losing their status if they fail to file the I-751 to remove the conditions on their green cards before the 2nd anniversary of when their cases were approved. Otherwise, however, a green card holder does not lose his/her status upon expiration of the permanent resident card. As a practical matter, of course, not having a valid green card in one’s possession can lead to a host of problems including not being able to renew one’s driver license or furnish current proof of one’s immigration status to an employer. Consequently, it is always prudent to consider filing to renew one’s green card as early as possible, assuming there are no complicating legal issues, ie., criminal convictions. An application can be filed as early as six months prior to the card expiring.
Individuals should be aware that I-90 processing can be lengthy. Applicants are normally summoned for a fingerprint appointment four to six weeks after filing, after which they may not receive the actual card until many months later. It is not unheard of for some cases to take eight months or longer. People often wonder what happens in the interim while their petitions are being processed if they have to travel, etc. How can they prove they are legal while their case is in limbo? Fortunately, during the I-90 process, USCIS will ordinarily furnish an extension sticker to the applicant which will temporarily extend the applicant’s green card while the new card is being generated. The extension sticker is normally given and affixed to the back of the expiring card by an Application Support Center at the fingerprint (or “biometric”) appointment.
If, for whatever reason, an applicant is not able to secure an extension sticker, an individual may need to book an INFOPASS appointment to go to a local USCIS office to receive an “ADIT” stamp (ADIT standing for Alien Documentation, Identification and Telecommunication Stamp; this is also known as an I-551 stamp). Under the current protocol, individuals are no longer able to schedule their own appointments but must call 1-800-375-5283. With this stamp, as well as proof that the I-90 has been filed, an individual should be able to renew one’s driver license as well as travel internationally (assuming, of course, there are no underlying admissibility issues).
For more information on how to renew a green card as well as issues that may make the process problematic, please contact our office for a confidential consultation.