How Long Does a Green Card Last?

Is There an Expiry Date on Green Cards?

Being a holder of a green card doesn’t imply that you’re completely done with all the immigration processes and paperwork. Also, it doesn’t mean that the holder has unlimited worry-free days in the United States. A green card is simply a confirmation that the holder has been legally allowed to reside and work in the U.S.

However, green cards are only valid for the specified time, and failure to renew before the expiry can see you forfeit your permanent residency status. Besides that, you will be ineligible for a job, home loan and will be denied entry if you happen to travel outside the US.

That said, it’s necessary to have an insight into how long a green card is useful as you continue to enjoy your stay in the US. 

Do Green Cards Lose Validity?

The United States government demands all legitimate permanent residents 18 years and above to carry with them an authentic green card all the time.

According to provision 264 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, all immigrants aged 18 and above ought to carry with them a green card issued during registration or any other immigration certificate issued in the course of registration. Any foreigner who violates these provisions can be charged.

This implies that any immigrant who fails to produce an authentic green card upon request by authorities will be deemed to have committed a misdemeanor.

Therefore, it is necessary to be informed on when your green card will cease to be valid so that you can take the renewal steps in advance.

Green cards do have an expiry date. A vast majority of green cards have a validity of 5-10 years, but there are a few that last beyond.

Having said that, let’s have an extensive look at the length a green card can remain useful.

How Long Does It Take for Green Cards to Lose Validity

The typical green card granted to all legitimate permanent residents of the US has a lifespan of 10 years. If your green card is approaching the end of its useful life, it is necessary to make arrangements to renew it in advance.

Renewal of these cards doesn’t happen instantly, and therefore it is essential to do it on time to avoid a scenario where you are left without a legally binding green card. It is advised to apply for renewal 6 months prior to the expiry date.

In this case, you will need to first obtain Form I-90, and fill in the details to replace the permanent resident card which will pave way for the renewal of your green card.

The green card expiry date can be found on the front side of your card alongside personal details. This information is pretty easy to locate.

Although a majority of green cards have a lifespan of 10 years, there are a few categories of green cards that don’t have a 10-year lifespan.

There are certain categories of green cards that are invalid from the word go. If you own such green cards, you will need to produce a Form I- 551 as a confirmation of your permanent residency status. Earlier versions of visas like Form I-151, Form AR-3, Form AR-103 are now obsolete, and ought to be replaced. Additionally, you will need to acquire and fill out Form I-90 in order to replace your outdated Permanent Resident Card.

Green Cards Without an Expiry Date

Some green cards have no expiry date, which means they will always remain valid. These are the initial versions of Form I-551, which were processed in the years 1977 and 1989. These green cards have no expiry date on them. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services ascertained that these visas are still authentic and can be used as proof of permanent residency status. Currently, there is no provision in place that instigates their renewal.

Although these green cards have no expiry date, producing such an old card can still pose a few issues. One of the greatest potential hurdles that you might face is trying to re-enter the US after traveling outside the country. Sometimes, offices in charge of Customs and Border Protection (CPB) can cast suspicion on your photo on the green card claiming that they are unable to verify your photo because your card is very out of date leading to a denial of entry into the US.

Also, the visibility of these cards can be dented by wear and tear, making it difficult for the CPB offices to confirm your identity.

If your green card is greatly damaged or too outdated you can contemplate applying for another before you travel.

Conditional Green Cards

Conditional green cards are those cards acquired through marriage and investment. These green cards have a validity of 2 years, and once that elapses they cease to be operational.

These cards are non-renewable. If you are approaching the expiring date of your marriage-based or investment-based green card, you will have to make a fresh application to get the limitations on your residency lifted. Any petition seeking removal of the residency terms must be done within 90 days of the expiration date. Failure to do so will result in loss of permanent residency status.

If your application is granted, you will be issued with a green card which will accord you a permanent resident status for 10 years.

Clearly, Green Cards Nowadays Have An Expiration Date

It is evident that green cards do have an expiration date. It is therefore necessary to have an insight into when your green card will expire. You can confirm your green card expiry date on the front side of your card and apply for renewal if it’s quickly approaching the end of its useful life.


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