For those who are outside of the US and need to apply for a green card renewal, don’t wait around.
Your green card is valid for 10 years and individuals above the age of 18 should have it with them at all times as it proves that you’re a lawful permanent resident.
There are a few circumstances in which you have to renew your green card (other than it expiring).
Some of these include: losing your green card, correcting mistakes on your green card, you have changed your name or sex or if your green card is an old version and does not have an expiration date.
Do note that procedures for green card renewal differ if you are outside of the country. If you are in the US, read here for the detailed renewal procedure.
Here’s how you can apply for your green card renewal from outside the US:
1. Check eligibility for green card renewal
Before applying for your green card renewal, it’s best to check your eligibility to avoid unsuccessful renewals. There are eight categories and each comes with its own eligibility requirements:
- Green Card through Family
- Green Card through Employment
- Green Card as a Special Immigrant
- Green Card through Refugee or Asylee Status
- Green Card for Human Trafficking and Crime Victims
- Green Card for Victims of Abuse
- Green Card through Other Categories
- Green Card through Registry
Click here for the full requirements of each category.
2. Contact the US Embassy or consulate
In the event that your green card expires while you are abroad, you first have to get in touch with the US embassy or consulate to let them know this.
From there, you will be informed about all the special requirements for your case by US government officials.
You also may or may not have to apply for an immigrant visa in order to come to the US and be admitted as a permanent resident. This process is known as consular processing.
Take note that there is a separate biometrics appointment you have to attend at the nearest US embassy or consulate when going through the renewal process abroad.
There are also two separate fees — the first is to renew your green card (including the US$455 filing fee) and the US$85 biometrics services fee which totals up to US$540.
However, the filing fees vary in some cases. Find out more here.
It’s a different case if your green card is about to expire within the next six months. If you’re returning to the US before the end of validity, it’s not necessary to contact the US embassy or consulate.
Just remember to file for your green card renewal immediately upon your return to the US.
Processing times for green card renewals may vary. If you’re lucky, it should take between four to six months but sometimes, it can even amount to 10 to 12 months.
You can check the current processing times using the website.
Here’s the full list of US consulates and embassies around the world.
3. Apply for a fee waiver
If you can’t afford the renewal fee, you can file for a fee waiver from USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration).
You would have to clearly demonstrate that you cannot pay the filing fees to be up for consideration. USCIS carefully considers the merits of each fee waiver request before making a decision.
Find out if you’re eligible for it here.