Applying for Citizenship When Your Green Card is Expiring

A question some people run into is whether to apply for a new green card when they area also planning to apply for naturalization.

The USCIS rules say that a person can apply for a new green card no more than six months before their current card will expire, and also that a person must apply for a new card during that six month period.

The law directs that a permanent resident can be criminally liable if he or she fails to carry an alien card at all times.

In the past year, a lot more people than usual have been applying for naturalization, causing the wait to complete that process to often be more than six months.

The U.S.C.I.S. position is that, if a person’s 10 year green card will expire more than six months from the time the person submits his application for naturalization, then he will not be required to apply for a new green card once that six month window arrives, while the naturalization application is pending.

So, if John’s green card expires May 1, 2017, and John applies for naturalization on September 1, 2016, he should not be required to apply for a new green card after Nov. 1, 2016, even though his current card will be within six months of expiring.

Cost savings will be significant, since, as of 12/23/2016, the filing fee for the form I-90, to renew a green card, will be $540 ($455 + $85 biometrics fee).

There might be other reasons to apply for the new card anyway – such as a person wanting a valid card for ease of proof of work authorization or travel.