How to Replace or Renew Your Green Card with USCIS Form I-90
However, not all LPRs are eligible to file this form, and some may not be required to replace their green card through Form I-90. Considering the complex USCIS rules and how they apply to these situations, it can be confusing to know what to do even when you have every intention of complying with immigration laws.
If you do not have a valid, accurate green card issued by USCIS, retaining knowledgeable legal representation is critical. An Arizona immigration applications attorney can assist by advising you on eligibility and completing necessary paperwork, so there are no disruptions with your LPR status. It is also helpful to review some background on how to replace or renew your green card.
Understanding the Purpose of USCIS Form I-90 in Arizona
Once individuals are granted LPR status, US immigration laws require that they carry their green card with them at all times. The documents must be available to be presented to law enforcement and other government officials if requested, and there are consequences for noncompliance. Therefore, if your green card expired, will soon expire, or was lost, stolen, or damaged, it is critical to get valid documents in your possession as soon as possible.
The purpose of the Form I-90 application is to replace a missing green card or renew an expired one. You will need to submit the form if you have a permanent green card, which expires every 10 years and can be renewed via this application indefinitely. If you no longer have it in your possession or it is destroyed, you must complete Form I-90 to get a replacement green card.
Note that the expiration of your green card does not take away your underlying status as a permanent resident. You remain an LPR, so you cannot be deported solely for not having current documents. However, life can be very challenging when your green card is outdated.
Eligibility for Green Card Renewal and Replacement
Though all green card holders are required to have their travel documents on their person at all times, not all of them qualify to file USCIS Form I-90. The reason is that this process only applies to LPRs who have a permanent green card that expires 10 years after its effective date. You are eligible to complete the application for a replacement card as a permanent green card holder.
Some green card holders have a conditional green card, which is only valid for 2 years. USCIS issues a card with a shorter expiration date when:
- The holder received a marriage-based visa and the spouses wed less than 2 years after the foreign spouse was granted LPR status; or,
- The person got a green card by investing in a US business.
If either of these circumstances apply to you, it is likely that you are a conditional green card holder. You must still renew within 2 years, but you will not use Form I-90. There are separate USCIS documents, Form I-751 and Form I-829, for these purposes. When you need to replace a conditional green card that was lost, stolen, or damaged, you complete Form I-90. You can check your documents or with USCIS to determine whether you have a permanent or conditional green card.
Steps to Filing USCIS Form I-90 Application in Arizona
Once you determine that you are eligible to replace or renew your green card, you can prepare to complete Form I-90. The application will ask for basic information, such as mailing address, physical address, and the reasons you need to get a new card. You can submit Form I-90 online in most cases, by filling out the fields with your information and electronically signing. It will be necessary to include supporting documents and evidence, which are described below and can also be uploaded online. Keep in mind that you are certifying the correctness of the information you provide, and there are consequences for supplying false or misleading details.
Some individuals will need to send a completed Form I-90, along with supporting documents, via US mail. This will be the case if you are seeking a fee waiver, you never received a green card after it was issued, or the document contains errors made by USCIS.
Evidence Needed for Form I-90 in Arizona
The specific documents and details you must submit with your application to replace or renew will depend on the reasons you do not have a valid, intact green card in your possession.
- For those who are renewing a green card that is expired or will be in the next 6 months, the green card itself is required evidence. You will also need to supply a copy of the green card if it contains a USCIS error.
- When a green card is damaged, you could submit a legible copy as evidence. However, you could use a government-issued photo ID showing your name, date of birth, and signature.
- If your card was lost or stolen, you obviously do not have one to submit. USCIS will also require a government ID under the circumstances, such as a passport or driver’s license.
- While a green card holder, it is possible that your name or personal information will change. Your information is no longer considered valid, so your green card must be replaced. Your Form I-90 should be accompanied by a copy of the old green card and a marriage certificate, divorce decree, or court order.
What to Expect After Filing
After you submit Form I-90 and supporting documents, USCIS will provide updates on your application. You can expect different notifications and communications as your documents are being processed:
- Upon receiving your Form I-90, USCIS will forward a confirmation letter.
- Approximately 1 to 2 weeks later, you will get a letter containing information about your biometrics appointment. You must attend at the time and date stated to supply your fingerprints, photo, and signature.
- If USCIS needs additional information or documents from you, you might receive a Request for Evidence (RFE). The letter will include a deadline for you to respond, which you can do by uploading the requested details online.
- After reviewing your Form I-90, USCIS will send a letter telling you whether your application was approved or denied. Your new green card will arrive shortly thereafter.
Form I-90 and Naturalization
Some individuals who need a new green card may have another option to pursue, and you might consider it depending on eligibility and your immigration objectives. Instead of filing Form I-90, you could apply for full US citizenship. The key criteria include being an adult aged 18 or older and having your green card for at least 5 years, or for at least 3 years if you are the spouse of a US citizen. However, every applicant’s circumstances are different, so there will be many other qualifications and requirements to meet.
To get a basic assessment of whether you qualify to apply for citizenship in lieu of getting a new green card, you can access the USCIS naturalization eligibility tool. An Arizona citizenship attorney can provide a more thorough evaluation of your eligibility and assist with preparations, filing, interviews, and other aspects of the naturalization process.
Additional Facts About Replacing or Renewing Your Green Card
In addition to the above summary, some points are helpful for understanding how the Form I-90 process works.
- There is a filing fee of $455 for Form I-90 and a $85 fee for your biometrics processing. You might qualify for a fee waiver on both of these costs but will need to prove financial hardship.
- If your existing green card contains an error made by officials, as opposed to you, there is no filing fee for the application and biometrics.
- If you are filing Form I-90 for a renewal, USCIS could complete the processing of your application within 6 weeks to a year. The processing time for green card replacements is slightly longer, potentially taking up to 12 months or more.
- The penalties for not having your green card on your person could include a maximum of 30 days’ imprisonment, a fine of up to $100, or both.
- Other consequences for not possessing a valid, current green card are more severe. You could have difficulties with employment, as well as getting or renewing a professional license.
- It is extremely important to note the serious problems you could run into if you leave the US and attempt to return with an expired green card. At a minimum, you will experience significant delays because you do not have proof of permanent residence in the US. You might also be refused re-entry, meaning even longer delays and fees.
An Arizona Immigration Lawyer Will Assist with Form I-90
With your green card being such an important document for US immigration laws, it is reassuring to know that there is a process to replace or renew it. Our attorneys at Diamondback Legal will advise you and handle all necessary tasks for completing Form I-90, so please contact us to schedule a consultation at our offices in Phoenix, AZ. You can call (602) 755-3199 or go online to learn more about our Arizona immigration law firm.