Tag Archives: green card expiry

Maintaining A Green Card Validity If Leaving the US

Recently, the United States Immigration and Customs Services (USCIS) regulations governing how long green card holders can spend outside the US have become more stringent. Generally, they may not be outside the United States for more than 6 months each year. In the past, green card holders were able to return every 6 months for a brief trip, and not have USCIS fully enforce this rule. Now, this is not the case.

Exceeding this 6 month time limit may jeopardize their ability to retain a green card. As a result, many Green Card holders are being placed in removal proceedings and/or having their green cards confiscated, for failure to maintain continuance physical presence inside the United States.

Continuous physical presence can be established by showing that there was no intent to abandon the green card and that the lawful permanent resident maintain their ties in the United States. This can be easily established through proper documentation such as owning a home, renting an apartment, bank accounts, pay taxes, and other forms of proof establishing that although the trip abroad was lengthy, there was always an intent to return. It becomes far more difficult to prove when the green card holder has been absent from the United States for more than a year.

Removal proceedings are a type of hearing held before an immigration Judge. The green card holder will be considered an immigrant, who at the time of admission, was not in possession of valid unexpired document. Again, this is usually based on the green card holder’s absence in the United States.

Where a permanent resident’s absence exceeds the one year mark, and they are placed in removal proceedings, most persons will have the option of requesting Voluntary Departure. Voluntary Departure allows the relinquishing the current application for which the green card is based, and they can go back to their home country. If the request for voluntary departure is granted, then the process for a new green card starts anew.

There are no bars as to how soon one can re-apply after they voluntarily depart. If the alien elects for voluntary departure they forfeit their rights to present a defense to removal, such as asylum, withholding of removal, cancellation of removal, a petition through a family member, or any other pending motions. It is important when voluntary departure is granted that they depart on the date specified by the Judge, otherwise they will be barred from re-entering the United Sates for anywhere between 3-10 years.

There are precautions that one can take if they are in fact they are going to be out of the United States for a period longer than generally prescribed, preventing the whole removal process from even occurring. The primary and most effective way to be outside the United States for more than a year is by having a re-entry permit. A re-entry permit can be issued by filling out a travel authorization (I-131 form) and checking the box that applies. This allows a green card holder to be out of the country for up to 2 years without disrupting their continuous physical presence requirement.

If this option is available to the applicant, they must also fill out an N-470 which establishes that they are not abandoning their continuous physical presence requirement. It should be noted, that a re-entry permit is different from an advance parole which merely lets you travel.

While the possibility of losing a green card can be a hassle, this circumstance is not uncommon and ability to re-apply still allows a person to reunite with their loved ones. If other circumstances arise, or you have other questions, then you should contact an immigration attorney as soon as possible.


Guest Post Author

Todd Gallinger is the founder and principal of Gallinger Law

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Green Card Renewal Process

A permanent resident card is normally valid for ten years. On its expiry, you have to go through the Green Card renewal process by filing Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card with the USCIS. Though those renewing expired GreenCards will not be penalized, make sure you renew your card at the earliest without waiting for the card to expire. Form I-90 is also used when you want to change any biographic information on your GreenCard ( if your name has changed because of marriage, divorece, etc.) and also when you lose your card and need a replacement. You will also not lose your permanent resident status if you do not renew/replace your Green Card. Permanent resident status does not expire.

Though permanent resident status does not expire, per immigration laws, you should carry evidence of your status (a valid, unexpired Green Card or temporary passport stamp). If you do not renew your card, you might experience difficulties in getting employment, benefits and re-entry into the United States from abroad. Apply for your new GreenCard before you travel abroad and have with you on any trip the temporary documentation you received. If you try to re-enter the US with an expired Green Card, you might experience a delay during the inspection process at the port of entry,

Additionally, your employers will not accept an expired GreenCard while verifying employment authorization for new hires. You can use other documents that you will find on Form I-9 (Employment eligibility verification form) such as social security card and driver’s license or carry temporary evidence of status, such as an I-551 stamp or even the receipt notice that you received for your I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card.

A permanent resident is different from a conditional permanent resident. A conditional resident will be issued a card that is valid for two years only. A conditional card cannot be renewed and such card holders have to remove the conditions during the 90 day period before the card expires. You will lose your status if the conditions are not removed. You should file Form I-751 to remove the conditions. Once the application is approved and conditions removed, you will get a permanent resident card that will be valid for the next ten years.

After you send the completed application to the USCIS, you can expect an Application Receipt Notice with a 13-character Application Receipt number in it within 30 days of having filed the application. This notice acts as a proof that USCIS received your Green Card renewal application and that it is being processed. You can also check the status of your application with this receipt number. Subsequently, you also will be intimated about the dates for fingerprinting and your interview date with detailed instructions related to the supporting documents you need to carry.

The entire Green Card renewal process takes three months on an average.

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