Traveling outside the US with an expiring, already expired or even losing your Green Card while abroad can mean a lot of hassle at reentry. Having a valid Permanent Resident Card, also known as a “Green Card” is very important when returning to the US after a trip abroad. So what can you do if your Green Card expires or gets lost or destroyed when you are abroad?
First of all, it is impossible to renew your Green Card while you are still abroad since you need to be physically present in the US to start the process. However, the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) offers several pathways for permanent residents to return to the US without their Green Card based on their situation.
What Can You Do If Your Green Card Is About to Expire While Traveling Abroad?
If your Green Card is about to expire while you are traveling abroad and you intend to return within 1 year before the expiration date, then you can renew it after reentering the US. However, it must be valid throughout reentry and not expire before you enter the US.
Maintaining your permanent residence requires you to return to the US within 1 year of your departure. Longer than 1 year of absence from the country can lead to the abandonment of your permanent residence.
After returning to the US, you can renew your Green Card by filing Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card. You can also leave the US again after you have completed the renewal process which includes submitting your biometric information with the USCIS.
What to Do If Your Green Card Expires While You Are on a Temporary Trip Abroad?
If you were traveling abroad when your Green Card expired, then you can return to the US if it has been less than 1 year. However, an expired Green Card will create some problems. Since traveling in an airplane or a ship requires you to have an adequate visa and passport to travel to the US, an expired Green Card will be accepted if it has a 10-year expiration date or a 2-year expiration date.
You will need the Form I-797C, Notice of Action to show that you filed a Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence, and the Form-828 to remove the conditions on your conditional Green Card.
You will be allowed to travel back to the US with an expired Green Card if you meet either of the above-mentioned conditions. However, in some cases, you can be denied passage, in which case, it is best to contact a local US embassy or consulate.