“Can I apply for citizenship with an expired Green Card?”
You may be asking this question if you are planning to apply for U.S. citizenship and recently found out that your Green Card is no longer valid.
We’ll answer this question and cover different scenarios, including Green Card renewal and conditional Green Card options, along with the steps to follow in each situation.
Additionally, we’ll share how our experienced immigration attorneys at Spar & Bernstein can help you with your citizenship application.
What Happens If My Green Card Expires?
The expiration of your Green Card does not change your immigration status and you remain a permanent U.S. resident.
However, when your Green Card expires, you will no longer be in line compliance with the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) Section 264(e), which requires all permanent residents over 18 years of age to have proof of their permanent resident status at all times.
Non-compliance is considered misdemeanor and can be punished with a fine of up to $100 and up to 30 days in prison.
If your Green Card has expired or is about to expire, it’s best to file for a new one. Without a valid Green Card, it can be challenging to travel abroad, apply for a loan or apply for a job.
What Happens If My Conditional Green Card Expires?
Once your conditional Green Card expires, your conditional status ends and you can be removed from the U.S.
Whether you obtained conditional residence through marriage to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, or based on investment, the validity of your initial Green Card is two years.
Can I Apply for Citizenship With An Expired Green Card?
The short answer is yes, provided that you meet U.S. citizenship eligibility requirements.
A valid Green Card is not a requirement to prove your eligibility for naturalization under the immigration law. Many people with expired permanent residence cards are able to successfully file their naturalization applications with the USCIS.
If you’re not sure how to proceed, contact our experienced immigration attorneys at Spar & Bernstein. We will look into your case and explain your legal options, and help you move forward with next steps.
How To Apply for Citizenship If Your Green Card Is No Longer Valid
Here are the steps to follow when applying for citizenship in different situations.
If You Are A Permanent Resident And Do Not Apply For A Green Card Renewal
While USCIS would prefer that you always have a valid green card, an expired Green Card does not mean your citizenship application will be rejected or denied.
To apply for citizenship:
- Submit Form N-400, Application for Naturalization
- Include the evidence required to prove you are eligible for U.S. citizenship
If You Are A Permanent Resident And Want To Renew Your Green Card
- File Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card to renew your Green Card
- You will receive Form I-797C, Notice of Action confirming your application receipt
- File Form N-400, Application for Naturalization with a copy of your Notice of Action, as proof that the renewal procedure has been initiated. This way, you do not need to wait for your Green Card to be renewed to file for citizenship.
The process above should also be followed if you want to apply for citizenship but your Green Card was lost, stolen or mutilated beyond recognition.
Wondering how long it takes to get a receipt from USCIS? Check out our blog on the topic!
If You Are A Conditional Resident
If you are a conditional resident, you must first change your conditional status to permanent resident status, in order to apply for citizenship.
To avoid losing your conditional status, file a petition to remove conditions on residence within 90 days before your Green Card expires.
- If you are married to an American citizen or a permanent resident, file Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions of Residence.
- If you were granted residency based on investment by you or a family member, file Form I-829, Petition by Investor to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status.
Once you become a permanent resident, you must have your Green Card for a certain period of time before you have the right to apply for citizenship.
This period is three years if your Green Card is based on marriage, and five years, if your Green Card is based on investment.
Our knowledgeable immigration team at Spar & Bernstein will review your case details, help you with complete and file your petition to remove conditions and explain next steps in your citizenship application process.
When Do I Need To Renew My Green Card?
Although you do not need to renew your Green Card to apply for citizenship, there are several scenarios when you must have a valid Green Card.
You Plan on Travelling Abroad
To re-enter the U.S. after a trip abroad, you must show a valid Green Card. Although you remain a permanent resident even after your Green Card expires, the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer may decide you do not meet the entry requirements.
If you fail to show valid proof of your status, you risk considerable delay, a possible re-entry fee and even entry denial.
You Plan on Applying For A Job
U.S. employers are mandated by the government to employ only people who have the right to work in the country, i.e. have a valid Green Card.
Failure to prove your status is likely to result in job denial, as the employer may decide they do not want to wait until you have your Green Card renewed.
You Plan on Renewing Your Driver’s License
To renew your driver’s license, the Department of Motor Vehicles in most states require a proof of your permanent resident status, or in other words, a valid Green Card.
If your Green Card is no longer valid, you will not be able to renew your driver’s license. In addition, you may lose your driving privileges.
You Plan To Take Out A Home Loan
Your mortgage lender may insist on a valid Green Card in order to approve a home loan. Waiting to renew it, which typically takes between 8 and 10 months, may lead to inability to refinance or buy a property.
How Can Spar & Bernstein Help Me With My Citizenship Application?
Whether you want to pursue U.S. citizenship and naturalization as a permanent resident or a conditional resident, our experienced attorneys at Spar & Bernstein are here to help.
With over 50 years of immigration law experience and 60+ lawyers and professional legal staff, we handle various cases from to employment immigration and family immigration to investor visas and deportation and removal defense.
Our professional support on your path to citizenship covers:
- A detailed review of your case
- Research into your eligibility
- Document preparation, completion and submission
- Work to eliminate any obstacles standing in the way of your citizenship application
- Preparation for a test or interview, if needed
- Communication with USCIS on your behalf
- Rescheduling appointments, if needed
- If you are a conditional resident, helping you remove conditions on residence and following up on your Green Card application
Our excellent immigration team is here to support you every step of the way on your path to U.S. citizenship. Whether your Green Card is valid, expired or about to expire, contact our lawyers at Spar & Bernstein and we’ll help you determine next steps on your journey.
If you want to know more about our work with immigration clients, explore some of our success stories and see how we’ve helped 100,000 people get immigration benefits.
Can I Apply for Citizenship With an Expired Green Card? Key Takeaways
Although having a valid Green Card at all times is required by law, its expiration does not affect your immigration status.
Applying for citizenship is possible with an expired Green Card, even if you decide not to renew it.
However, an expired Green Card can be an obstacle in some situations, such as traveling, applying for a job or changing your driver’s license. The USCIS recommends applying for Green Card renewal six months before your Green Card expires.
If you are a conditional resident, you can apply for citizenship only after you apply to remove conditions on your residence and become a permanent resident.
Our experienced immigration attorneys at Spar & Bernstein can help you pursue your U.S. citizenship dream by handling the heavy paperwork and providing legal advice every step of the way.
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