A green card is nothing but an authorization to a person who is not a natural citizen of the United States of America to work and live in the country permanently. Also called permanent resident card, this card has an expiration date of 10 years from the date of issue, if you have applied for the card after 1988. If you have applied before that, and don't have a date of expiry, then you don't need to worry about its renewal.
If your card has an expiration date mentioned on it, you need to get it renewed as soon as possible. It's not that you would lose your permanent resident status if you don't renew it, but you would need it to prove that you are a permanent resident of the country. Moreover, without a green card, you may find it difficult to obtain employment.
What is the Procedure?
It was in 1989 that the government initiated the process of issuing green cards with expiration dates on it. Today, once issued, these cards expire after ten years and the date of expiry is mentioned on the front side. You should get a USCIS Form I-90, also called the 'Application to Replace a Permanent Resident Card', fill it up, and submit it in the USCIS office. You may also submit an online request for the form and receive it by mail.
If you are a resident of El Paso, San Antonio, Houston, San Francisco, Chicago, Newark, or New York, you can apply for a renewal form by mail, but eventually you would have to go to the USCIS office to get a temporary card. It usually takes about 10 to 12 months for you to receive the renewed green card.
Once you have applied for renewal, you would be issued a temporary card, which is valid for a year and you would get that immediately. While going to the USCIS office, make sure that you take your unexpired passport along (if you have a passport). If you don't have that, you need to take an additional photograph when you go to the USCIS office.
You can apply for a green card renewal up to six months before the date of expiry. In case, you have not applied and your expiry date has already passed, you can still apply without any penalty. A temporary card would still be issued, which would act as a temporary proof and would give you the status of a lawful permanent resident. In case, your temporary card expires before a renewed green card is issued, you need to return to the USCIS office and get a temporary card again.
What is the Fee?
The renewal process is not free and the cost of renewing is US$450, which includes biometric fee of $85 and form fee of $365. You need to pay this amount at the USCIS office where you go with your filled up form.
How to get the Form?
You can opt for renewing your card online and get the form downloaded from the official website of the USCIS department. You can also opt to go to the nearest USCIS office and get the form in person or you can even get it mailed to your address. Once you have got the form, read the instructions carefully and then fill it up. While submitting the form, make sure that you pay the fees associated with it. You would then be given a notice for biometric processing and the other documents required. Once you have deposited the biometric fee, you would be issued a temporary green card so that you can continue your vocation in the country.
The process of renewal is easy, and you only need to make sure that, you have all the documents in place and as and when you are called, you submit them and get a temporary card issued. As a lawful citizen of the country, make sure that you get the card renewed as soon as possible, so that you can live and work without any trouble.