What is a Permanent Resident Card?
A Permanent Resident Card, commonly known as a Green Card, is evidence of your status as a lawful permanent resident with a right to live and work permanently in the United States. It also is evidence of your registration in accordance with United States immigration laws. The Permanent Resident Card is also called Form I-551.
What Does the Law Say?
Section 264 of the Immigration and Nationality Act provides that, "Every alien in the United States shall be issued a certificate of alien registration or an alien registration receipt card in such form and manner and at such time as shall be prescribed under regulations."
It also states, "Every alien, eighteen years of age and over, shall at all times carry with him and have in his personal possession any certificate of alien registration or alien registration receipt card issued to him. Any alien who fails to comply with [these] provisions shall be guilty of a misdemeanor."
The specific requirements and procedures for applying to renew an expiring permanent resident card are set forth in the Code of Federal Regulations [CFR] at 8 CFR § 264.5.
Who Should Renew a Permanent Resident Card?
You should renew your permanent resident card if you are a permanent resident who was issued a Form I-551 valid for ten years, and that card is either expired or will expire within the next six months.
If you are a Conditional Resident and your status is expiring, these instructions do not pertain to you. You are to use Form I-751 (Petition to Remove the Conditions on Residence) to apply to remove the conditions on your permanent resident status.
How Do I Apply to Renew My Permanent Resident Card?
If you are a lawful permanent resident whose ten-year I-551 has expired or will expire within the next six months, you may renew your card by filing an Form I-90.
What If I am Outside of the United States?
If you are outside the United States, and your permanent resident card will expire within six months, (but you will return within one year of your departure from the United States and before the card expires), you should file for your renewal card as soon as you return to the United States.
If you are outside of the United States at the time of the card's expiration, and you have not applied for the renewal card prior to your departure, you should contact the nearest American Consulate, USCIS office, or Port of Entry, before attempting to file Form I-90 for a renewal I-551 card.
How Can I Find Out the Status of My Application?
If you have immigration-related questions, you may call the USCIS National Customer Service Center (NCSC) at 1-800-375-5283. You should be prepared to provide the USCIS staff with specific information about your application, such as your receipt number, Alien Registration Number, name, and date of birth. Please click here for complete instructions on checking the status of your application. Or, you may check the status of your application online at Case Status Online. Please remember that an E-Filed receipt number may not be available through Case Status Online for 72 hours.
If My Application is Denied How Can I Appeal?
If your application for a renewal of your permanent resident card is denied, you will receive a letter that will tell you why the application was denied. You will not be allowed to appeal a negative decision. However, you may submit a motion to reopen or a motion to reconsider with the same office that made the unfavorable decision. By filing such a motion, you may ask the USCIS office to reexamine or reconsider its decision.
A motion to reopen must state the new facts that are to be provided in the reopened proceeding and must be accompanied by the appropriate documentary evidence. A motion to reconsider must establish that the decision to deny your application was based on an incorrect application of law or Immigration policy, and further establish that the decision was incorrect, based on the evidence in the file at the time the decision was made. For more information, please see How Do I Appeal the Denial of Petition or Application?
Can Anyone Help Me?
If advice is needed, you may contact the District Office near your home for a list of organizations who can assist you with the preparation and filing of your application.