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Can You be Deported Because of an Expired Green Card?

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Immigrating to the U.S. seems to involve endless deadlines. Even your green card—your permanent resident status—has to be renewed. But what happens if you do not renew your green card before it expires? Do you still have work authorization and the right to remain in the U.S., or can you be deported because of an expired green card?

An expired green card can prevent you from renewing your driver’s license, maintaining your employment, or re-entering the United States if you travel. If you have a conditional green card that has expired, you may be at risk of deportation. Generally, applying to renew the card extends your immigration status while the renewal is pending.

If you need assistance renewing your green card, reach out to the Law Office of Rosina C. Stambaugh. Our team is composed primarily of immigrants and the children of immigrants who understand the difficulty of the seemingly endless onslaught of immigration deadlines. We can help you stay on top of your deadlines and figure out your options if you have missed any.

What Happens If Your Green Card Expires?

Even if your green card is expired, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officially extends the validity period of your green card when you apply for renewal. Until and unless you apply for renewal, you technically no longer hold a valid legal immigration status if you have an expired green card.

The further out you get from the expiration without applying for renewal, the longer you spend in invalid status. Spending more time without legal status raises the risk you will be unable to renew your green card and may even be targeted for deportation.

How Long Does Applying for Renewal Extend Green Card Validity?

In September 2022, USCIS announced that unconditional green cards can be valid for two years beyond their printed expiration dates. In January 2023, USCIS announced that conditional green cards can be valid for four years. These periods begin from the expiration date printed on your card, not the date you apply for renewal, even if you renew after the card expires.

How Do You Qualify for an Unconditional Green Card Extension?

To benefit from the two-year unconditional green card extension, you generally submit Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card (Green Card). When USCIS accepts your I-90 for processing, you qualify for the two-year extension.

How Do You Qualify for a Conditional Green Card Extension?

Green cards based on marriage or investment are conditional, with a validity period of only two years. After two years, you must apply to remove the card’s conditions. Then your green card lasts the standard 10 years.

For a marriage-based green card, you submit Form I-751, Petition to Remove the Conditions of Residence. For an investor-based green card, submit Form I-829, Petition by Investor to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status. When USCIS accepts your application for processing, you qualify for the four-year extension.

How Long Does It Take to Process a Green Card Renewal?

USCIS recommends applying to renew your unconditional green card within six months of your card expiring. You should only apply to remove conditions within 90 days of your green card’s expiration, not earlier.

Yet, according to USCIS data, green card renewals are currently taking a significant amount of time to process.

  • Twenty-eight months for initial and replacement I-90s,
  • Nine months for I-90 renewals,
  • Nineteen to thirty-two months for Form I-751, and
  • Sixty-six months for I-829s.

These lengthy processing times make it vital you submit as complete and accurate an application as possible.

What If My Green Card Expires While Waiting for Renewal?

Once USCIS receives your renewal application, it sends you an I-797 receipt notice. This notice informs you of your relevant extension. Together, your expired card and receipt notice prove your green card is still valid beyond the printed expiration date.

Unfortunately, some applications can still take longer to process. If you have applied to renew your green card and are coming up on the extended expiration date, you may be able to press USCIS to move more quickly. Your lawyer can help you identify options, like inquiring with USCIS or requesting help from your elected representatives.

Even if you cannot get USCIS to speed up processing, the government has discretion in who it selects to deport. Someone who is technically out of status because they are waiting on USCIS to process a green card renewal, has little risk of being targeted.

What If My Green Card Expires While Waiting for Citizenship?

You begin the process of becoming a U.S. citizen by filing Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. As of December 2022, submitting Form N-400 extends your green card’s validity in the same way as submitting an I-90—i.e., for two years.

Can I Travel with an Expired Green Card?

You may travel with an expired green card if you carry your receipt notice explaining the extended expiration date with it. Without the receipt notice, you may be unable to prove your green card is still valid and may experience difficulty entering or leaving the U.S.

Help Navigating Green Card Renewal

Although you will rarely be deported based on an expired green card, the longer your green card is expired without filing a renewal application, the higher the risk. The Law Office of Rosina C. Stambaugh can help you apply to renew your green card, using our knowledge and experience to make the process as efficient as possible. Contact us today.

Author Photo

Rosina Stambaugh

Rosina C. Stambaugh, founder of The Law Office of Rosina C. Stambaugh in York, brings a wealth of expertise to immigration law. With a focus on removal defense, Ms. Stambaugh has successfully litigated cases across various Immigration Courts, the Board of Immigration Appeals, and the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, offering comprehensive support to clients facing diverse immigration challenges. She also represents individuals and families applying for affirmative benefits with U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services.

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