My Green Card is about to expire, how can I renew it?
Whether or not you can “renew” your Green Card depends on the type of Green Card you have. Take a look at your Green Card. At the bottom you will see “Card Expires” and “Residence Since”.
If you have a 10-year Green Card, then you can renew it, but if you have a Green Card that is only valid for 2 years (Conditional Green Card), you cannot renew it.
You will need to apply for the permanent 10-year Green Card to remove the conditions.
The reason that you have a Conditional Green Card is that you were married for less than two (2) years when you were interviewed.
To remove the conditions you will need to file form I-751 with USCIS at least 3 months before your Conditional Green Card expires.
Filing as early as possible ensures that your Green Card will remain valid until you get proof of the extension (the USCIS receipt Notice).
It sometimes takes USCIS about 2-3 months to issue the receipt notice. So, if you file too late you can find yourself unable to continue to work/travel waiting for the proof of extension.
Ideally you should file the I-751 jointly with your sponsoring spouse/parent.
This means that both you and your spouse will sign the I-751 form, attesting to the validity of your marriage. Filing jointly shows USCIS that you are still in a bona fide marriage.
Hopefully, this will also ensure that you have a lot of joint-life documents (joint accounts, pictures, etc.) to prove the validity of your marriage.
But even if you cannot file jointly due to divorce, separation, or death, you can still request a waiver of the joint-filing requirement.
Getting an affidavit from your sponsoring spouse attesting to the validity of your marriage is extremely helpful when requesting a waiver.
Remember, even if you file for a waiver, you still have to prove the validity of your marriage for however long it lasted.
You should consider hiring an attorney who can help you prepare your case, especially if you do not have a lot of joint-life documents proving your marriage.
Can I still file the I-751 if my Green Card already expired?
Yes, you can but you must file as soon as you realize.
Make sure to provide a signed letter explaining why you filed late and requesting that USCIS accept your late filing.
USCIS wants to make sure that you have a reasonable excuse for not filing.
If you forgot to file due to family/work issues – for example, birth of a baby or getting a new job, moving, or relocating, death in the family – then this can be used to explain the delay in filing.
Make sure you have proof of what caused the delay.
Even if the delay was due to you merely forgetting, you should request that USCIS forgive your late filing.
If you fail to file the I-751 USCIS may place you in removal/deportation proceedings.
This usually happens about 2 – 6 months after your Green Card expires.
Also, once your Conditional Green Card expires you will no longer be able to use your Green Card for work/travel.
So, you need to be very vigilant and timely file your I-751.