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Those who earn Permanent Residency within the United States will be issued a green card – formally known as an I-551 card – that they must carry with them at all times. The average green card will have a duration of only 10 years; a few may have a much more limited duration, though. When a green card expires, the permanent resident must follow the proper steps to renew it as soon as possible. But what happens if they don’t?


When you are given a green card, this is merely a representation as your status as a permanent resident in the United States. It is not actually that status itself. If your green card expires, your status does not expire. Thus, failing to renew a green card does not automatically cancel your underlying status and make you subject to removal.

However, allowing a green card to expire and failing to renew it does have potentially serious consequences. In particular, you can be charged with a misdemeanor for knowingly carrying an expired green card without taking reasonable steps to have it renewed. A misdemeanor prosecution and successful conviction in turn can actually damage your residency. Some workplaces that hire immigrants or residents will not accept the applications of convicted criminals, even if the conviction is only for a misdemeanor.

With this in mind, when you see that your green card is going to expire soon, the safest bet is researching how to renew it before more trouble arises. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will expect a Form I-90 from you to renew a green card. If you require help with this process or any other immigration law procedure, USILaw and our Montgomery County immigration law attorneys can help you. Call 800.335.8520 or contact us online today to learn more.

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