Visa Services
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"Green Card" Replacement and Renewal
(Revised 03 June 2004. Reviewed 03 June 2004. Posted 04 June 2004.)

The "Green Card" is the common name for the form I-551. It is also called Alien Registration Card, Immigrant Card, Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) Card, and similar names. It identifies a person as a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) of the United States with the right to reside and work in the U.S. indefinitely. In general, the Department of Homeland Security – Citizenship and Immigration Services (DHS-CIS) handles most of the paperwork related to the LPR card.

1. Why would I need to replace or renew my LPR card?
2. If LPR status is "indefinite" how can there be a temporary card or one that expires?
3. My friend got an LPR card by marrying a U.S. citizen, but the card was only valid for two years. Why?
4. How do I replace or renew my card?
5. That is a lot of reading. Could you give me the basics?
6. Where is the local DHS office? Do I really have to go to the local office? It is so inconvenient to take time out of my life and to travel.
7. How do I show that I am an LPR while the application for the new card is pending? What if I don’t have a passport?
8. Is this complicated? Do I need a lawyer?
9. I still have questions about this. Who can answer my questions?
 
1. Why would I need to replace or renew my LPR card?
 

Perhaps the most common reasons are replacing a lost, damaged, or stolen card or renewing an expiring card. Other reasons include a child reaching 14 years of age; change of legal name; or "temporary" marriage-based cards that need to be made permanent.

[Note that losing your card is not the same as losing your LPR status. If you have lost LPR status by leaving the U.S. for longer than a year, entering the U.S. in a temporary visa status, violating the law, or any similar action, then this FAQ is not for you. You cannot regain lost status by simply applying for a new card. You need to talk with an experienced immigration attorney.]

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2. If LPR status is "indefinite" how can there be a temporary card or one that expires?
 

The status, itself, does not expire, but the card does. Cards are generally issued with a validity period of ten years, like U.S. citizens’ passports, and must be updated with new personal information and photos.

There are two primary exceptions to the 10-year validity rule. Children who reach the age of 14 must have new cards issued, and cards based on marriage are generally valid conditionally for only two years.

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3. My friend got an LPR card by marrying a U.S. citizen, but the card was only valid for two years. Why?
  LPR status based on marriage to a U.S. citizen is "conditional" pending reliable evidence of the validity of the marriage. The two must remain married for two years, and "hold themselves out to the community" as a married couple. In general family and friends should know about the marriage, and believe that it is a bona fide or "good faith" marriage, and not a marriage of convenience just to get the LPR card. There are a few exceptions to the "two-year" rule, which you may wish to discuss with an experienced immigration attorney. There is a process for removing the conditional status, making the status permanent, and issuing a standard 10-year LPR card.
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4. How do I replace or renew my card?
 

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has extensive information on its web site. Please note these links of special interest:

Renewal, Replacement, or Removal of the Marriage Condition: http://www.uscis.gov/files/article/B2eng.pdf

General immigration forms: http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis

Click on Immigration Forms and then scroll down the list. Form I-90 is the Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card.

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5. That is a lot of reading. Could you give me the basics?
 

It is important that you read the DHS material, understand your responsibilities in the process, and follow the instructions. We are listing the following key elements to help you organize your reading and thoughts, and prepare to speak with your immigration lawyer if you choose to consult one.

  1. You must complete the application form and collect all required supporting documents, such as new photos, and in the case of marriage, evidence of a bona fide marriage.
  2. You must go in person to the local Application Support Center (ASC) or Department of Homeland Security - Citizenship and Immigration Services (DHS-CIS) office to file. Note that you can obtain a paper form on-line or at the local office or by calling the toll free number. You can also file electronically and pay with a credit card. Regardless of which way you file, you still have to go to the local office in Charlotte for part of the processing. The method of filing only changes when you travel to Charlotte.
  3. You must pay the appropriate fee.
  4. You should take your passport or other forms of photo identification with you any time you go to a DHS office.
  5. You may go to the DHS-CIS office and ask that office to give temporary evidence of your LPR status so that you can travel while you are waiting for the new card. Usually the DHS-CIS office will put a stamp in your passport confirming your LPR status and indicating that a card renewal is in process.
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6. Where is the local DHS office? Do I really have to go to the local office? It is so inconvenient to take time out of my life and to travel.
 

It is important that you read the DHS material, understand your responsibilities in the process, and follow the instructions. We are listing the following key elements to help you organize your reading and thoughts, and prepare to speak with your immigration lawyer if you choose to consult one.

  1. You must complete the application form and collect all required supporting documents, such as new photos, and in the case of marriage, evidence of a bona fide marriage.
  2. You must go in person to the local Application Support Center (ASC) or Department of Homeland Security - Citizenship and Immigration Services (DHS-CIS) office to file. Note that you can obtain a paper form on-line or at the local office or by calling the toll free number. You can also file electronically and pay with a credit card. Regardless of which way you file, you still have to go to the local office in Charlotte for part of the processing. The method of filing only changes when you travel to Charlotte.
  3. You must pay the appropriate fee.
  4. You should take your passport or other forms of photo identification with you any time you go to a DHS office.
  5. You may go to the DHS-CIS office and ask that office to give temporary evidence of your LPR status so that you can travel while you are waiting for the new card. Usually the DHS-CIS office will put a stamp in your passport confirming your LPR status and indicating that a card renewal is in process.
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7. How do I show that I am an LPR while the application for the new card is pending? What if I don’t have a passport?
 

If you take your passport with you, the DHS-CIS officer can put a stamp in your passport that acts as a temporary LPR card. Note that the ASC office only does photos and fingerprints; it cannot give you the passport stamp. You can use the stamp to travel outside the U.S. and return, to show employers for job changes, or to present as confirmation of your LPR status for other reasons. If you do not have a passport, be sure to ask for some other form of temporary evidence of LPR status, which the DHS-CIS office should be able to provide.

 

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8. Is this complicated? Do I need a lawyer?
  Applying for a lost or expiring LPR card is usually a simple matter of filling out the form, providing supporting documents, and making the trip to the local DHS-CIS office. Many people do this on their own. However, if you have questions about whether you are eligible, how to apply, or whether you might experience difficulties because of any personal special circumstances or the basis on which your LPR card was obtained, it is a good idea to talk with an experienced immigration lawyer. For pointers on working with immigration lawyers, click here.
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9. I still have questions about this. Who can answer my questions?
  Contact Visa Services by sending a message to VISAHELP@mc.duke.edu or call the office at 681-8472.
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