In the past, USCIS and some immigration attorneys believed that you could not become a naturalized citizen if you did not have a valid green card (LPR) to bring with you to your naturalization interview. This is an error.
If you have the same issue, don't worry – you may still be able to apply for citizenship. USCIS will allow someone with an expired or lost green card to naturalize and become a U.S. citizen.
So save yourself the time and expense associated with filing the I-90 to get a replacement green card. If you are eligible for naturalization, this issue will not derail your application.
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Some people might think that getting a green card is not essential. But it's not true.
A Green Card is a Permanent Resident Card. It's a document that proves that you are a legal permanent resident of the United States. Most immigrants call it an alien registration card, Form I-551, or simply "green card."
With a Green Card, you have all the rights and privileges of U.S. citizenship, with a few exceptions. Holders can travel inside and out of the United States without any problems. Besides that, they can also work and live in the United States permanently.
Getting a green card is not as complicated as some people think, and there are many different ways to get one. One of the easiest ways is through family sponsorship or employment-based immigration. But you can also get green cards through programs for refugees and asylum seekers.
So what if I lost my green card? That question is common for most immigrants.
A lost or stolen green card can be a stressful thing. However, there are 2 steps you need to ensure your application is processed correctly.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services handles processing naturalization applications. Such as those from permanent residents who meet the eligibility requirements.
Following are the temporary proof or requirements needed to file for citizenship:
If you reside in the United States, it is vital to keep your Permanent Resident Card (PRC) up to date. The PRC is evidence of your status as a lawful permanent resident and allows you to live and work in the United States.
If your PRC is lost or stolen, or if it has been damaged, you will need to replace it by filing Form I-90 with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). You can file the form for free, but some applicants have a filing fee.
Note: Paper applications are no longer accepted. If you want a more convenient option, filing online is an excellent way to go. Also, if you choose to replace your green card in person, you will need to schedule an appointment at a USCIS office. Plus, you need to bring proof of identity, such as a passport or driver's license.
In either case, you can then begin applying for citizenship. Once done, USCIS will review the application and make a decision. If approved, the replacement card will be sent by mail.
For most people, getting a new green card is pretty straightforward. In other words, there are a few things that can impact the timeline.
Here are the different scenarios:
Ultimately, the best way to ensure a timely process is to work with an immigration attorney. A law firm can help you get the necessary documentation. Besides that, ensure that your application is complete and accurate.
If you do not renew your expired green card, you will lose your permanent resident status in the United States.
Losing your permanent resident status has serious consequences, such as:
Therefore, the risks associated with not renewing your Green Card are significant and should not be taken lightly. So, the best way to avoid those pitfalls is to ensure that your green card is up to date.
If you're in a situation where your green card has been lost or expired, please do not hesitate to reach out for help. Gaining citizenship is a big step in your life. That's why you want to make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible.
An immigration attorney can help you in determining your next steps. Our team of experienced lawyers is happy to answer any questions you have during the process.