How to renew a green card

Keeping your green card up-to-date ensures you can continue reaping its benefits.

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What's Inside

What's Inside

A permanent resident card, also known as a green card, is an identification document for non-United States citizens that proves they have permission to work in the United States. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) grants foreign individuals residency on a conditional or permanent basis: Permanent green cards are valid for 10 years, while conditional green cards are only valid for two. 

People with permanent green cards should apply to renew their green card at least six months before it expires. Those with conditional green cards must begin an application (also called a petition) to become permanent residents at least 90 days before their card becomes invalid. If you have a green card without an expiration date, it’s old and likely expired. So it’s a good idea to renew that too.

This article will walk you through what you need to know about the renewal process, the supporting documents you should have on hand and what to do if USCIS denies your application.

Eligibility to renew a green card

If you’re a permanent resident, you should renew your green card every 10 years before it expires. You should also apply for a new green card when certain circumstances change. 

People who need to renew their green card include: 

  • Permanent residents who have had their green card lost, stolen or destroyed.
  • Permanent residents who received a green card as a child and are now 14 years of age.
  • Permanent residents who’ve been living in an international country and commuting to work in the United States but now plan to move to live in the U.S. full time.
  • Permanent residents who’ve been living and working in the United States but now plan to move internationally and commute to work in the U.S.
  • Permanent residents who need to update the information on their green card because it contains incorrect information or is outdated.
  • Individuals who’ve automatically become permanent residents through special programs.

If you’re a legal conditional resident with a two-year green card, you aren’t eligible to renew your card the same way permanent residents do. Instead, you must first petition the United States government to remove conditions around your residency. Then, if your petition is accepted, you’ll become a permanent resident, and the government will give you a new permanent green card that’s due to be renewed every 10 years.

When should I renew my green card?

It’s essential to keep your green card up to date. An expired or incorrect card can cause trouble when you need to prove that you’re a legal resident of the United States.

For instance, if you let your green card expire: 

  • You may not be able to buy or rent a house, because many mortgage lenders and landlords require proof of residency.
  • It may be difficult for you to find or keep a job, because many occupations require a valid green card before granting you a professional license or authorization to work. 
  • Depending on the state you live in, you may be unable to renew your driver’s license and lose driving privileges. 
  • If you plan to go abroad with an expired green card, you’ll likely run into challenges with Homeland Security when you return from traveling.

In most cases, you can submit your paperwork and supporting documents to renew your green card electronically or by mail at least six months before your card’s expiration date.

If you’re abroad and your green card will expire before you get home, call the nearest U.S. consulate, embassy or port of entry to discuss your situation in more detail.

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The green card renewal process by mail

Some permanent residents elect to renew their green card by submitting a paper application through the mail. 

1. Prepare Form I-90

To renew a permanent green card, you must fill out an application called Form I-90. The document asks for your full name, mailing and physical address(es) and additional biographic information. In addition, prepare to answer questions about your family and original place of birth, why you’re applying for a new green card, and where and when you entered the United States. 

Conditional green card holders hoping to stay in the United States after their card expires shouldn’t fill out Form I-90. Instead, they should fill out one of two forms, depending on their circumstances, to petition the government to remove the conditions around their residency and grant them permanent residency status.

2. Gather supporting documents

Once you complete Form I-90, collect any supporting materials necessary to substantiate your application. The type of information you need may vary, depending on your circumstances. Please read all instructions carefully to ensure that your application is complete before you mail it in. If you fill out your forms incorrectly, USCIS may deny your application, prolonging or hampering your ability to get a green card.

3. Pay the green card renewal fee

Some green card renewal applications require you to pay an administrative cost called a filing fee. The cost to submit a Form I-90 is currently $455. If, in addition, your application requires biometric services—that is, the government needs your fingerprints and photo on file—there’s currently an additional $85 fee.

All fees are non-refundable and due in U.S. currency only. You should pay by check or money order from a bank or financial institution in the United States. Make your check or money order to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. 

Never mail cash or pay an amount that’s more or less than exactly what you owe.

If you can’t pay the filing fee(s), you may be eligible to have them waived. First, complete a Request for Fee Waiver (Form I-912) or write a letter that states, in English, why you’re experiencing financial hardship and can’t afford to pay the due amount. Be sure that everyone in your household signs the letter or form, and include any documentation that shows evidence of your financial hardship. That can consist of evidence that your household falls below 150 percent of the federal poverty guidelines, or that you currently receive a means-tested benefit like Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, Supplemental Security Income or Temporary Assistance to Need Families. 

Don’t send your fee waiver request by itself. Instead, send it with the petition to renew your green card. If USCIS denies your request, they’ll send a notice detailing the reasons for the decision and outlining the next steps for you to take.

4. File your green card renewal application

Once you’ve gathered the necessary paperwork, it’s time to mail it in. To find up-to-date information on where to send your application, visit or call the USCIS Contact Center at 1-800-375-5283 (TTY: 1-800-767-1833) and speak to a representative.

The green card renewal process online

Many permanent residents submit their paperwork electronically using the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services online portal. The process is essentially the same; instead of paper and pen, you use a computer, phone or tablet to complete your forms and send your documentation. Once you finish, the website directs you to to pay your filing fees with a credit card.

The benefit to completing your green card renewal process online is that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services portal sends you an e-notification when they receive your application, as well as other updates as your case progresses. You can also communicate directly with them if you have any questions.

How to check your green card renewal status

Using the US Citizenship and Immigration Services tracker, you can check your case status online. You can also call the USCIS Contact Center at 1-800-375-5283 (TTY: 1-800-767-1833) to speak to a representative. Be sure to wait 72 hours after you file Form I-90 before checking the status of your application.

What happens after applying for renewal

Once you submit your paperwork by mail or online, you must wait for the U.S. government to review your case. Applications go through a series of phases before they’re fully processed: 

  • First, USCIS officially “accepts” your application, indicating that you’ve correctly filed your paperwork. 
  • Then, your renewal application goes into an Initial Processing phase to check for completeness. The government can, at any time, request more information about your application. They may also request that you appear at a USCIS office to be interviewed, provide biometric data, verify your identity or update a background/security check. 
  • Finally, they reach a decision and determine whether they’ll renew your green card: If you file your application through the mail, they mail a written notice with the final decision. If you file online, you receive that notice electronically, through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services portal.

Acceptance notification

When you first submit your paperwork, USCIS sends you an acceptance notification with a 13-digit receipt number. You can use that document and your current green card to continue to live and work legally in the United States for 24 months after your card expires.

Suppose you don’t have your green card anymore because it was lost or destroyed. In that case, you must contact USCIS for an Alien Documentation, Identification & Telecommunications (ADIT) stamp to use to temporarily demonstrate that you’re an authorized U.S. resident. USCIS will either give you an appointment at your local USCIS field office to obtain the ADIT stamp or mail the stamp to the address on your application.

Biometrics notification

If USCIS determines that they require your fingerprints, signature or photo for their records, they’ll send you a notice within a few weeks of your application submission. That notice will include a scheduled date for a biometrics appointment and other details about your case.

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Green card renewal processing time

It can take anywhere from 45 days to 12 months for your application to be processed and for you to receive a new green card.

If you need your new green card sooner

You can request an expedited renewal application process by contacting the USCIS Contact Center after receiving your application notification receipt.

Because expediting specific requests means prioritizing them over other applications, USCIS reviews each case individually to determine how to proceed. As a result, they usually don’t grant expedited requests unless you need a green card for an emergency or humanitarian reason, there’s been a USCIS error or it’s in the United States government’s best interest. 

When you call to request expedited processing, the USCIS Contact Center will forward your information to a reviewing office. There, an officer will review your specific request and ask for documents to support your need for faster service. The documentation required may vary, depending on your claim.

What if your renewal application is denied

If USCIS denies your application, they’ll send a letter detailing why. Although you can’t appeal the decision, you can petition them to reopen or reexamine and reconsider their decision as long as your case meets specific criteria. 

A petition to reopen your case must include evidence that there are new facts that may affect the USCIS decision-making process. 

A petition to reconsider your case must show that USCIS incorrectly used the law or evidence in your file when determining your permanent residency status.

Speak with an immigration lawyer

If you’re confused about how to renew your green card or if USCIS denies your application and you’d like to explore your options, contact an attorney specializing in immigration law. Lawyers at Marble can help guide you through your green card renewal process, preparing your paperwork and ensuring that you feel comfortable and confident in your final application or petition.

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Disclaimer: This article is provided as general information, not legal advice, and may not reflect the current laws in your state. It does not create an attorney-client relationship and is not a substitute for seeking legal counsel based on the facts of your circumstance. No reader should act based on this article without seeking legal advice from a lawyer licensed in their state.

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