Dealing with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is not for the faint-hearted. Often the most seemingly straightforward of applications can take months and even years. The green card renewal processing time is no exception, and the COVID-19 pandemic has placed massive pressure on the system.
Unfortunately, turnaround times of two months are a thing of the past. USCIS has been impacted by COVID backlogs and the same recruitment crisis that’s affecting many government agencies. You should assume you are in for a long wait.
Always check the processing times on the USCIS website. As of September 2022, this reveals an application to replace a 10-year permanent resident card is dealt with by the Potomac Service Center with 80% of cases completed within 13 months. It’s safe to assume you will wait at least a year for your replacement green card in 2022.
When Should I Apply to Replace Your Green Card?
Given the long renewal processing times applicants face, aim to start the process well before the expiration of your 10-year permanent resident card.
Your wait depends on factors including the USCIS caseload and your ability to correctly file a green card renewal or replacement application. Consider talking to an experienced immigration lawyer to avoid making mistakes that could delay the application further.
When is Green Card Renewal Necessary?
You should file Form I-90 to renew or replace a green card. You must replace your green card if it has expired or is due to expire within six months. Renewal is also necessary if you received your previous card before you were 14 and you have reached your 14th birthday – unless your card expires before your 16th birthday. USCIS provides a list of reasons why lawful permanent residents and conditional permanent residents must renew or replace their green cards.
If you filed I-90 correctly, USCIS will mail you a receipt notice (Form I-797) 2 to 4 weeks after filing. If you made a mistake, USCIS will send you a Notice of Action rejecting the document or a Form I-797E Request for Evidence. If you receive either, your renewal or replacement request will have been significantly delayed. Seek legal advice if you are unsure about how to file your green card renewal/replacement package.
The receipt letter is important because it extends the validity of your existing green card, meaning you should not experience any issues with working or traveling out of the country.
When presented with your green card, the I-797 notice extends the green card’s validity for 12 months from the date on the front of the card and provides proof of your status as a lawful permanent resident. This means you have documentation of identity, employment authorization, and authorization to return to the United States after temporary foreign travel.
You should receive notice of a scheduled date for a biometrics appointment for fingerprinting within a few weeks of filing Form I-90. This is mandatory for most renewals and is causing huge delays. COVID-19 caused major backlogs in testing which USCIS is still working its way through. An appointment that would have taken about eight weeks in the past is now taking from 7 to 11 months.
Although your biometrics appointment is not an interview and you will not have to attend a formal interview for green card renewal, you should bring the correct documentation. If you arrive without a valid ID, you could end up waiting months longer.
After biometrics, you can check the status of your green card renewal on the USCIS website by entering your receipt numbers. You should receive your new green card within a matter of weeks although backlogs are affecting all parts of the process.
In rare cases, applicants can apply to expedite the green card renewal process. These include urgent humanitarian reasons such as expediting work for healthcare workers during humanitarian crises or where a company can show it would suffer severe financial loss. Contact one of our lawyers if you believe your case may fall into one of these rare scenarios.
Green card renewal processing times are causing frustration across the country. Please contact our immigration team today for help with your application to ensure your renewal is as fast as possible. Call Gardner & Mendoza at (757) 464-9224.
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