Can I Apply for Naturalization with an Expired Green Card?

If you are a lawful permanent resident (LPR) of the United States, you may be eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship through naturalization.

However, you may wonder if you can apply for citizenship with an expired green card.

The short answer is yes, but there are some important considerations that you should be aware of before you file your application.

Can I Apply for Naturalization with an Expired Green Card
Can I Apply for Naturalization with an Expired Green card?

 

In this article, we will explain the pros and cons of applying for citizenship with an expired green card and how to avoid potential problems along the way.

What is the role of a green card in naturalization?

A green card is a physical document that proves your LPR status.

It also serves as a valid form of identification and employment authorization.

However, a green card does not grant you U.S. citizenship, nor does it guarantee your eligibility for naturalization.

To become a U.S. citizen, you must meet certain requirements, such as:

  • Being at least 18 years old
  • Having continuous residence in the U.S. for at least five years (or three years if married to a U.S. citizen)
  • Being physically present in the U.S. for at least half of the required residence period
  • Having good moral character
  • Demonstrating knowledge of U.S. history and government
  • Showing ability to read, write, and speak basic English
  • Taking an oath of allegiance to the U.S.

A green card is not a requirement to prove your eligibility for naturalization under the immigration law. However, it is a useful document to have when you apply for citizenship, as it can help you establish your identity, residence, and LPR status. Additionally, having a valid green card can make it easier for you to travel abroad and re-enter the U.S. while your naturalization application is pending.

Can I apply for citizenship with an expired green card?

Yes, you can apply for citizenship with an expired green card.

As long as you are still a lawful permanent resident, your immigration status does not change when your green card expires.

However, applying for citizenship with an expired green card can pose some challenges and risks, such as:

  • Difficulty proving your identity and LPR status: You may need to provide additional evidence, such as a passport, a driver’s license, a birth certificate, or a tax return, to verify your identity and LPR status. You may also need to obtain a stamp in your passport from USCIS, which can serve as temporary proof of your LPR status. This stamp is called an Alien Documentation, Identification, and Telecommunications (ADIT) stamp, and you can request it by making an appointment at your local USCIS office.
  • Potential delays in processing your application: USCIS may take longer to review your application if you do not have a valid green card. USCIS may also ask you to attend a second interview or provide additional information or documents to verify your eligibility for naturalization.
  • Possible denial of your application: USCIS has the discretion to deny your application if you fail to establish your eligibility for naturalization. If your application is denied, you may lose your filing fee and have to start the process over again. You may also face removal proceedings if USCIS determines that you are no longer a lawful permanent resident or that you have committed fraud or other immigration violations.
  • Inability to travel abroad or renew your driver’s license: If you have an expired green card, you may encounter problems when you try to travel outside the U.S. or renew your driver’s license. Some airlines, border officials, or state agencies may not accept an expired green card as a valid document. You may need to apply for a travel document or a replacement green card before you can travel or renew your license.

Should I Renew My Green Card Before Applying for Citizenship?

It depends on your situation and preferences. Renewing your green card before applying for citizenship can have some advantages, such as:

  • Avoiding the issues mentioned above: If you have a valid green card, you can avoid the potential problems of applying for citizenship with an expired green card. You can also enjoy the benefits of having a valid green card, such as traveling abroad and renewing your driver’s license without hassle.
  • Saving money and time in the long run. If you renew your green card before applying for citizenship, you may save money and time in the long run. This is because you may not need to apply for a travel document or a replacement green card after you become a U.S. citizen. You may also avoid the delays and complications that can arise from applying for citizenship with an expired green card.

However, renewing your green card before applying for citizenship can also have some disadvantages, such as:

  • Paying an extra fee and filing an extra form: If you renew your green card before applying for citizenship, you will have to pay an extra fee and file an extra form. Currently, the USCIS fee to renew a green card is $540. Then, the USCIS fee to apply for naturalization is currently $725. That’s $1,265 in fees to do both. For some people, this cost may be a barrier to applying for U.S. citizenship.
  • Waiting for your new green card to arrive:  If you renew your green card before applying for citizenship, you will have to wait for your new green card to arrive before you can file your naturalization application. This can take several months, depending on the processing time of USCIS. You may also need to attend a biometrics appointment to provide your fingerprints and photos for your new green card.

What Are the Alternatives to Renewing My Green Card Before Applying for Citizenship?

If you do not want to renew your green card before applying for citizenship, you have some alternatives, such as:

  • Applying for citizenship with an expired green card: As explained above, you can apply for citizenship with an expired green card, but you should be prepared to face some challenges and risks along the way. You should also make sure that you meet all the other requirements for naturalization and that you have enough evidence to prove your identity, residence, and LPR status.
  • Applying for a green card extension: If your green card is expiring soon, you may be able to apply for a green card extension. USCIS has recently updated its policy to automatically extend the validity of green cards for up to 24 months for LPRs who have applied for naturalization1. This extension applies to all applicants who file Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, on or after December 12, 2022. The receipt notice for Form N-400 can be presented with the expired green card as evidence of continued status, identity, and employment authorization. This policy update can help naturalization applicants who experience longer processing times and may eliminate the need to file Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card.

Conclusion

Applying for citizenship with an expired green card is possible, but it may not be the best option for everyone.

Depending on your situation and preferences, you may want to consider renewing your green card before applying for citizenship or applying for a green card extension.

Either way, you should make sure that you meet all the requirements for naturalization, and that you have enough evidence to prove your eligibility.

If you need help with your naturalization application, you may want to consult an immigration attorney or a reputable online service.

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