It is easy to forget to renew your Green Card from time to time since you don’t use it every day or keep it on you all the time. However, US law requires you to carry your Green Card at all times but that rarely happens.
It is natural to avoid renewing your card since the process is lengthy and takes too much time. It is also expensive to renew your card. Currently, the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) charges $450 to renew your Green Card. However, an expired Green Card will cost you a lot more than money.
No other document can replace the “Green Card”, your official US Permanent Resident Card. That is why you need to have it. Losing your Green Card does not mean you lose your status as a permanent resident.
What Challenges Arise From an Expired Green Card?
An expired Green Card can cause the following challenges:
Reentering the US:
If you have been traveling outside the US and wish to return, then it can be a lot of hassle without a valid Green Card. You require proof of permanent residency before boarding a plane or a ship and at the Port of Entry. An expired Green Card is not considered proof of permanent residence. Therefore, you can expect a delay and an expensive re-entry fee. It is up to the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officials to determine whether you will be allowed to enter the US or not.
Obtaining a Professional License:
If you are self-employed, then you will be required to obtain state-mandated licenses to practice your profession. It is necessary to have a valid Green Card to obtain such licenses. You could require a license if you are in real estate, insurance agent, broker, healthcare, law and other professions. You can not practice your profession without a license therefore it is vital to have a valid Green Card.
Difficult to Get a Job:
While hiring an immigrant, US-based employers are required to submit Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, for each new foreign employee. This is to verify your authorization to work in the US. A valid Green Card satisfies the authorization requirements. According to the I-9 instructions, a new employee must complete and sign the form on the first day of employment. Therefore, an employer will be unable to hire you without a valid Green Card. You can get a temporary I-551 stamp on your foreign passport, but even that is only valid for 1 year. However, the process to obtain the stamp is very lengthy and your new employer might not be ready to wait. It is best to apply for the renewal of your Green Card.