Green Card Information: What happens if my green card expires?

What happens if my green card expires?What happens if your green card expires?

If you have a 10-year green card, you will not lose your status as a permanent resident just because your card expires. This does not mean that renewing your green card is optional. It is very important that you renew your green card on time. At a minimum, your green card is your proof of your lawful immigration status. If you allow it to expire, you may find that you have trouble getting a job, a driver’s license or other public benefits. In addition, if you travel outside of the United States with an expired green card, you may not be allowed to reenter the United States with it.

If you are a conditional permanent resident with a 2-year green card, your permanent resident status will end if you do not file you I-751 on time. This means that you could face deportation proceedings in immigration court. I can guarantee you that submitting the I-751 on time to renew your green card is much less expensive and stressful than having to go to immigration court in order to save your green card.

How do you lose your permanent resident status?

The three common ways in which you can lose your lawful permanent resident status are:

1) Abandonment of status. Abandonment is treated as a question of intent. The general rule is that you will be considered to have abandoned your permanent resident status if you are absent from the United States for more than one year. Absences of between six months and one year generally create a rebuttable presumption that you have abandoned your permanent resident status. It is often much easier to resolve abandonment issues if you address them before you have been outside the United States for an extended period of time. You should consult with an immigration attorney if you plan to stay outside the United States for an extended period of time. You should also consult with an immigration lawyer if your circumstances change during a trip abroad and you find yourself in a situation where you will be outside of the United States for an extended period of time. Any delay in addressing these issues could lead to the loss of your permanent status.

2) Removal or deportation. You can lose your green card if you are faced with removal or deportation proceedings in immigration court. You are subject to removal proceedings as long as you are a lawful permanent resident. Once you become a U.S. citizen you are no longer subject to removal proceedings. Because removal proceedings can lead to the loss of your permanent resident status, you should consult with an immigration attorney as soon as you learn that you must appear in immigration court.

3) Rescission of adjustment. Rescission of adjustment only applies to people who obtained their lawful permanent resident status through the adjustment of status process. Through this process, you may lose your permanent resident status if you were not eligible for permanent resident status at the time you obtained your green card. Rescission can only take place within five years of your adjustment of status. If you receive a rescission notice from the government you should immediately contact an immigration attorney. You will only have a short amount of time to respond to a rescission notice.

Renewing Your Green Card

If you are in the United States and your 10-year Green Card has expired or will expire within the next 6 months, you may renew your green card by filing a green card renewal application on Form I-90. You may also be eligible to file your Form I-90 online.

If you are outside of the United States when your Green Card expires and you have not applied for the renewal card prior to your departure, you should contact the nearest U.S. Consulate, USCIS office, or U.S. port of entry before attempting to file Form I-90 for a renewal card.

About Kimberley Schaefer

Kimberley Schaefer is an immigration lawyer with offices in Boise, ID and Rexburg, Idaho. She helps future Americans become citizens by assisting them with immigrant visas, fiance visas, adjustment of status and green card applications, applying for immigration waivers, fighting deportation and applying for asylum. To contact her, you can call (208) 918-0852 or send Kimberley an email now.


  1. Richard Preuss says

    My name is Richard and I immigrated to US in 1975. I received my green card in 1978 (through marriage). In 1987 I got in trouble with the law (drug related), and I served 1 year in CA State Prison. After I served my time, I had a hearing in immigration court, and the judge let me stay in the US. Unfortunately, I got in trouble again in 1995 – I got arrested for DUI and for possession of the controlled substance (police found on me a little plastic bag with unmeasurable amount of white powder). I was trying to fight it, went on trial and lost it (it got me a second felony). I got a replacement green card in 1996 and it expired in 2006. I am currently transferring to from community college to UC Berkeley ( yes, I slowed down, and I am trying to become a lawyer at 64). Today, I filled out the residency statement (for UC), and I got an email from the Residence Affairs Officer that they want to see my green card. Here is the question: has my status changed because of the expired green card? Should I try to re-apply for the new card? Is there anyway to take care of this problem? I live in LA for almost 40 years, and I had a successful career in the entertainment industry, I am a homeowner, and I pay taxes. I would appreciate your comments- Richard

    • Kimberley Schaefer says


      You should schedule a consultation with an immigration lawyer so that you can have a lawyer review your situation in detail. In particular, your lawyer will need to review the court records from each of your convictions in order to determine the possible immigration consequences that could result from your convictions.

      In most cases a person does not lose their status as a permanent resident just because their 10-year green card expires and they can renew their green card. However, part of this process is a background and criminal records check. You should consult with a lawyer before you renew your green card or travel outside the United States so that you understand whether you may be found to be deportable or inadmissible. If you are deportable or inadmissible, your lawyer can help you identify whether you have any options for maintaining your permanent resident status.


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