By George Lake
The United States is a land of diverse opportunities and experiences, attracting people from all corners of the globe. For lawful permanent residents (LPRs), commonly known as Green Card holders, maintaining their legal status is crucial when traveling in and out of the country. But what happens when your Green Card expires while you are abroad, and you need to travel to the United States? In this guide, we’ll walk you through the current policy and procedures for traveling to the United States on an expired Green Card and how to ensure a smooth journey.
Understanding the Current Policy
As of the latest information available, here are the key points to consider when traveling with an expired Green Card:
- Unexpired Valid Permanent Resident Card (PRC): If you have a valid, unexpired Permanent Resident Card (commonly referred to as a “Green Card”), you can travel without any additional documentation. Simply present your unexpired Green Card at the port of entry.
- Re-Entry Permit (I-327): Holders of a valid and unexpired re-entry permit (Form I-327) are allowed to board without needing any extra documents. Please note that only the original re-entry permit is accepted; copies will not suffice.
- Expired Permanent Resident Cards (10-year validity): If your Green Card has expired but was originally issued with a 10-year expiration date, you may still be allowed to board without any penalty.
- Expired Permanent Resident Cards with Extension Sticker/Form I-797: Since January 2021, the extension sticker for Green Cards has been discontinued. Instead, a revised I-797 receipt notice, combined with your expired Green Card, serves as temporary evidence of lawful permanent resident status for up to 12 months from the expiration date on your Green Card. Ensure you have the original I-797 permit; copies are not accepted.
- Expired Conditional Resident Cards (2-year validity): If you are a Conditional Resident with an expired Green Card that had a two-year expiration date, you can still board if you also possess a Notice of Action (Form I-797). The Form I-797 extends the validity of your card for a specified period, typically 18 months. Make sure to have the Form I-797 with you; otherwise, you may not be allowed to board.
- SB-1 Visas: Travelers with a valid, unexpired SB-1 visa in their passport may be boarded without requiring additional documentation.
It’s essential to understand that airlines should not determine the admissibility of travellers based on factors outside the document requirements. However, it is recommended that individuals with expired Green Cards apply for Form I-90 to renew their Green Cards to avoid any complications during travel.
Applying for Form I-90
If you have an expired Green Card or one nearing expiration, it is advisable to apply for Form I-90, also known as the Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card. Here’s a brief overview of the process:
- Download the Form: Visit the official U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website and download Form I-90. You can also request a paper copy if preferred.
- Complete the Form: Fill out Form I-90 accurately. Make sure to provide all requested information, including your A-number.
- Gather Supporting Documents: Depending on your situation, you may need to provide supporting documents, such as a copy of your expired Green Card, passport-sized photos, and the appropriate filing fee.
- Submit the Application: Mail your completed Form I-90, along with the required supporting documents and payment, to the address provided in the form instructions.
- Wait for Processing: USCIS will process your application and may schedule you for a biometrics appointment.
- Receive Your New Green Card: Once your application is approved, you will receive a new Green Card in the mail.
Keep in mind that processing times may vary, so it’s essential to submit your Form I-90 well in advance of your planned travel dates to avoid any travel disruptions.
Traveling to the United States with an expired Green Card is possible under certain conditions outlined in the current policy. However, to ensure a hassle-free journey and maintain your status as a lawful permanent resident, it is strongly recommended to renew your Green Card by applying for Form I-90. By following the guidelines and staying informed about the latest policy changes, you can travel confidently and enjoy all that the United States has to offer. Safe travels!
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