As a U.S. immigrant, your green card is your proof of your legal U.S. residency and the rights that attach to this important status. Federal law requires you to carry your green card at all times. Nevertheless, you may not look at it very often because you do not need it on a day-to-day basis. What if you inadvertently allowed it to expire?
CitizenPath.com reports that most green cards expire 10 years after initially issued. Some exceptions exist to this general rule. For instance, your green card expires two years after issuance if you obtained it as a conditional permanent resident who married a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. On the other hand, your green card may carry no expiration date if you obtained it several decades ago.
Expired green card issues
An expired green card does not make you lose your permanent resident status. Nor do you face deportation from the U.S. or any financial penalties or fines for allowing it to expire. You simply must renew it. This process, however, can take up to a year. In the meantime, your expired green card makes it impossible for you to do any of the following:
- Renew your driver’s license
- Renew your professional license if your job requires one
- Get a new job
- Buy a house
- Reenter the U.S. if you travel out of the country
Renewing your green card
Even if your green card is one of the older ones that contains no expiration date, your best interests require that you renew it. Why? You may look considerably different than you did at the time you originally got it, and a USCIS agent will not be able to verify your identity by looking at it. In addition, today’s Global Entry kiosks cannot read the older green cards.