Can I Apply for Citizenship With an Expired Green Card?
Are you wondering if you can apply for citizenship with expired green card? We have an answer, but let’s start at the beginning.
Part of the U.S. citizenship process involves obtaining a lawful permanent residence card, more commonly known as a green card. While your status as a lawful permanent resident never expires, the card confirming that you are a lawful permanent resident of the United States does. An unconditional green card is valid for ten years before it needs to be renewed, but again, your legal status as a lawful permanent resident does not expire.
Since part of the U.S. citizenship process involves being a lawful permanent resident for a specific amount of time, it is natural to wonder if you can apply for citizenship with an expired green card. For instance, if the card expires during the citizenship application process, what then?
You Probably Want To Renew Your Green Card Just To Be Safe.
Remember, your green card is only evidence of your legal status. It is not the status itself. With that in mind, yes, you can still be approved for citizenship with expired green card.
In some cases, lawful permanent residents will wait to hear from the USCIS about their citizenship applications before renewing their green card. If you’re uncomfortable with this, you can always apply to renew your card during the citizenship application process and that is perfectly fine. The downside is, you’d be paying for both.
One important thing to remember is that by law, lawful permanent residents are required to have their green cards on them at all times. The penalty for violating this law can cause serious problems, including being denied entry to the U.S. and in a worst-case scenario, it could lead to initiation of deportation proceedings. Thus, it is safer to renew your green card. Additionally, having a valid green card will make it easier to apply for jobs and travel outside of the United States. (link to other)
So, while the answer is complicated, it is not absolutely necessary to have an unexpired green card when applying for citizenship. However, it is much safer to renew your card and carry it with you to avoid any potential legal complications.
You can apply for citizenship with expired green card, it is just not advised that you do so.
If you or someone you know is interested in learning more about applying for U.S. citizenship or checking their eligibility for these types of immigration benefits, our immigration resource center is a great place to find up to date information and useful resources. Additionally, if your case is more complex and you would like to speak with a licensed immigration attorney, or you can learn more about immigration benefits through an initial consultation before deciding on the path that’s best for you here.