My I-90 Green Card Renewal Is Delayed: Can I Still Travel? | Laird Law PLLC (2024)

The I-90 Form is an application to replace your permanent resident card. In other words, an application to renew your green card. But did you know that the green card renewal process can take eight months or more?

Your green card is proof of your right to live and work in the United States, and you’ll need it to re-enter after international travel. If your green card renewal is delayed, there’s no reason you should be stuck stateside! There are still ways to obtain proof of permanent residence if you need to travel when your green card is expired.

What happens if you travel with an expired green card?

To re-enter the US, valid proof of permanent residence is required. You’ll need an unexpired green card to get back in. And if your green card is expired, your travel plans may be delayed or you may be met with steep fines. You may even risk delays in your immigration process. The best way to avoid complications is to never travel abroad with an expired green card. (Remember, your return date must be before the expiration date.)

What can I do when my green card renewal is delayed?

Even if you’re on top of your immigration paperwork, it can be difficult to plan travel when I-90 processing times are between 8 – 10 months. If you’ve already applied for green card renewal, but you need proof of permanent residence before your renewal has been processed, you may be able to obtain temporary proof. Here are some ways you may be able to obtain the documents needed to travel abroad even when your green card is expired or expiring.

Present your receipt letter along with your expired green card

If you filed Form I-90 when your green card was less than one year from expiring, you can use your receipt letter along with your expired card if you need to work and travel. After US Citizenship and Immigration Services, or USCIS, has accepted your application for renewal, you will receive a receipt letter providing temporary evidence of permanent resident status.

The receipt letter, also known as Form I-797 Notice of Action cites, “This notice provides evidence of your lawful permanent resident status for 12 months from the expiration date on your Form I-551, Permanent Resident Card.” This receipt letter keeps you authorized to re-enter the United States when presented in conjunction with your expired Permanent Resident Card. This temporary form of proof can work if you need to travel internationally, renew your driver’s license, find a new job, or apply for a mortgage.

Prepare your paperwork for a USCIS appointment

If your green card is already expired, your green card is lost, or you have an urgent need to travel, call USCIS to schedule an appointment. It’s important to be honest about the urgency of your situation. Be upfront about your travel plans and bring receipts. And make sure to document and prepare proof of your need to travel, such as plane tickets, legal notices, or even a doctor’s note.

To obtain proof of permanent residence, prepare the following:

  • Your expired green card (a valid passport may work if your green card is lost)
  • Your receipt letter, the Form I-797 Notice of Action mailed to you by USCIS
  • Evidence of urgent need to travel

Examples of evidence of urgency might include a death certificate, medical or legal notices, or prior travel plans that cannot be avoided.

If you can show proof that you have started the green card renewal process, along with proof of urgent need for international travel, the USCIS officer can provide temporary proof of permanent residence. If the officer puts a sticker on your expired or expiring green card, that means it is valid for another year. If your green card is lost, the officer adds an I-551 stamp to your passport. This stamp can be presented like a green card to re-enter the United States.

Apply for Advance Parole

If you need to leave the US while your green card renewal is still processing, the I-131 Form for Advance Parole allows you to travel abroad without terminating your green card application for renewal. In immigration law, parole works differently than in criminal law. Applying for Advance Parole works like asking for permission to re-enter the US ahead of time. And with proper documentation, you can get this travel document to travel internationally without paying extra.

  1. File Form I-131 with USCIS and include your photo ID, two passport photos, and a copy of your receipt letter acknowledging your application for green card renewal along with proof of payment for green card renewal.
  2. Once you’ve received your travel document, you are free to travel internationally as long as you re-enter the US before the expiration date on your travel document.
  3. Your travel document is valid for one year from the date of issuance, about 150 days after submitting the Form for Advance Parole. Processing times fluctuate, but you can check current processing times in a database that’s updated every month.
  4. If you still haven’t received your green card renewal and your travel document is no longer valid, you can apply to renew your travel document. To renew your Advance Parole travel document, plan ahead and submit Form I-131 with a copy of your expired travel document, the receipt letter from your green card application, and two passport-sized photos for no extra green card renewal fee.

Plan ahead

Travel restrictions during the immigration process can make some things difficult, but don’t throw away your progress for lack of foresight. If you have applied for green card renewal and your application has been delayed, do not leave the United States unless you have a valid travel document, temporary proof of permanent residence, or other applicable documentation. If you choose to leave the country while your green card renewal is still processing and you do not have the proper documentation, your application to renew your green card will be terminated and you may face additional legal repercussions upon re-entry.

Put your trust in Laird Law

If you are faced with a family emergency or business opportunity while your green card application is still pending, there’s no reason to feel isolated. The experienced immigration lawyers at Laird Law can help you navigate the required forms to apply for a travel document or obtain temporary proof of permanent residence, whichever is appropriate for your situation. The consequences of traveling with an expired green card are severe, so it’s a good idea to double-check with an immigration lawyer before leaving the country. Leaving the US without valid proof of permanent residence will bar you from re-entry for up to 10 years. Contact us today for legal expertise you can rely on.

If you have yet to apply for your green card, learn more about the fastest and easiest path to a green card here.

My I-90 Green Card Renewal Is Delayed: Can I Still Travel? | Laird Law PLLC (2024)


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