September 8, 2008: File I-90 Before Green Card Expires, If Eligible

File I-90 Before Green Card Expires, If Eligible

Can a person be deported because their green card is expired? Do they have to do something wrong for them to get deported? Please get back to me ASAP. It’s an emergency.
— Anonymous

Generally, a person will not be deported because their green card is expired.

A Permanent Resident Card (also known as “green card”, or Form I-551) is proof of lawful permanent resident status. However, when a green card expires, it does not mean that the person’s lawful permanent resident status has expired. When a green card expires, the lawful permanent resident should, if otherwise qualified, file Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card, to renew the green card. The Applicant must indicate on the I-90 that the card has an expiration date and it is expiring (or has expired) by marking box 2f. The Applicant will then be scheduled for a Biometrics appointment at a local Application Support Center where their fingerprints will be captured. Assuming the Applicant is eligible for the renewal, s/he will receive the renewed green card in the mail shortly thereafter.

If the Applicant has any arrests and/or convictions, s/he will be requested to bring certified copies of the criminal records to determine whether s/he is deportable from the United States. If the individual is deportable, s/he will eventually receive a Notice to Appear (NTA) before an Immigration Judge. The NTA will set forth the allegations as to why you are deportable.

Permanent residents should always carry their green card on their person. According to 8 U.S.C.A. § 1304(e), “[e]very alien, eighteen years of age and over, shall at all times carry with him [or her] and have in his [or her] personal possession any certificate of alien registration or alien registration receipt card issued to him [or her] pursuant to subsection (d) of this section. Any alien who fails to comply with the provisions of this subsection shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall upon conviction for each offense be fined not to exceed $100 or be imprisoned not more than thirty days, or both.”

As a practical matter, it should be noted that permanent residents who travel (or plan to travel) outside of the United States should make sure that their green cards are not expired. An expired permanent resident card may lead to lengthy questioning by the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) upon your re-entry into the United States, and possible deferred inspection.

Before a person applies to renew their green card, they should consult with an experienced immigration attorney to review their immigration and/or criminal records to determine whether s/he will encounter any immigration-related problems, with respect to the continuing validity of their resident status.

Michael Shane and Evan Shane, Immigration Attorneys