Some tips before starting your green card renewal
Are you getting near the time you should renew your Green Card? If it is the first time you’re going through this process, there are some tips that might help you out.
First of all, be aware that you do not need to wait until your Green Card has expired to start this process (although that may not be a problem) you can start 6 months prior to its expiration date.
To do this, as with any other immigration benefit, you need to follow a process, that starts with filling out a form, in this case, Form I-90, the Green Card renewal or replacement application.
Then, you should gather the documents listed on the application, and pay the corresponding fee and submit your application. This Green Card application guide can help you out.
What you should take in consideration before your Green Card renewal
Unless you’ve spent a period of time longer than 6 months outside the United States or have committed a crime during the time you had your prior Green Card, this process should run smoothly and easily.
However, if you have trips planned outside the United States and you’re reaching the 6 months period you should start your renewal, these are the steps you should take:
- If your Green Card is expiring within six months but you’ll be returning to the United States before it expires, you should file form I-90 as soon as you return to the United States.
- If you are already outside the United States and your Green Card expired, but you did not start your renewal process. Contact your nearest U.S. Consulate, International USCIS office or U.S. Port of Entry to get help returning to the country.
Be very thoughtful about your Green Card’s expiration date, especially if you have trips planned outside the country, as an expired Green Card outside the United States can cause a lot of inconveniences that you could just avoid.
What happens if your Green Card already expired?
Fortunately, if you missed your Green Card’s expiration date, you don’t immediately become an illegal immigrant or have to pay a fine in order to renew your permanent resident card.
However, you shouldn’t wait too long before starting your process because you could face many problems if you don’t have a valid permanent resident card. For example, getting a new job, acquiring a new property, or travelling outside the country.
Tips to help you start your Green Card renewal
There are two ways in which you can apply for your Green Card renewal; online or by mail. The process doesn’t differ a lot on both methods, so you may choose whichever suits you best.
If you want to follow your process online, you should start by creating a USCIS online account, then, look for Form I-90 and fill it out on your computer, get the required evidence ready and upload it too.
Double-check all the information and documents you’ve uploaded, digitally sign your form, and pay the corresponding fee. If everything is right, you should just wait for your biometrics appointment and your new Green Card.
One of the advantages of applying online is that you can track the progress of your application on the check status page and you can get text messages or mail notifications so you can know immediately when your form is accepted.
The same logic applies if you prefer to fill your form by hand and mail it, except you don’t need to create an account, just print the form, make photocopies of all the required evidence, including the payment of the corresponding fees, and mail it to your nearest USCIS office.
Get some help filling out the form
Although it may seem like a pretty simple process, a lot of times there are some problems that we might be missing, not to mention that we spend a lot of time figuring out how to answer the form adequately.
That is why we advise you to get some help so you can avoid any trouble. You don’t necessarily have to get help from an immigration attorney unless you’ve had some trouble with the law, but you could use other alternatives.
For example, there are online services that can make the whole process a lot simpler and save you a lot of time. You just have to answer some easy and nonrepetitive questions, send the corresponding fee, scan the required documents, and you’ll be on your way to your Green Card renewal.
Gather your evidence documents
If the reason you’re filing Form I-90 is simply that it is about to expire, a copy of your soon-to-expire should be enough evidence. However, if you need to replace your card because it was stolen, lost, damaged, or some important information about you changed, some other documents may be needed.
Keep response times in mind
USCIS response times can vary from office to office and other external factors, as of October 2020, USCIS estimated time of response for a Green Card renewal is from 9 to 11 months. Yet another reason why applying early is advised.
The biometrics appointment
Although you could wait a while to receive your new Green Card, your biometrics appointment is generally scheduled between one or two weeks after your application is received, so you should expect to get a notification during those days.
In your biometrics appointment, you should expect to get your photo, fingerprints, and signature taken, although sometimes you could be asked for some additional documentation, so read your notification thoroughly and keep the date in time.