Should I renew my Green Card or apply for citizenship?

Green Card or Permanent Resident Card is a proof of your permanent resident status in the United States. It is a valid identification document to prove that you are eligible to live and work in the U.S. Some Green Cards contain no expiration date, while most are valid for ten years. A conditional Green Card is valid only for two years. It is important to keep your Permanent Resident Card up-to-date. It is frequently said that Green Cards give all the benefits of U.S. citizenship except the right to vote and hold public office.

If you are a permanent resident of the United States your status as a permanent resident does not expire, but your Green Card will expire in every ten years. When the expiration date on your card is six months away, you can either renew your Green Card or apply for U.S. citizenship. The time period you have to wait before applying for U.S. citizenship ranges between three to five years.

If you are eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship, you can submit the U.S. citizenship application instead of renewing your Green Card. You can apply for U.S. citizenship by filing Form N-400. It will probably take you over a year to get U.S. citizenship. If you change your job or travel, it is recommended that you renew your card.

When can I apply for U.S. Citizenship?

Generally you are eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship, if you have been a Permanent Resident for at least five years. But there is an exception for asylees, refugees and those married to U.S. Citizens.

  • If you have been married to and living with your U.S. citizen spouse, you can apply for U.S. citizenship after 3 years of being a Permanent Resident.
  • If you are an asylee, you can apply for U.S. citizenship four years after your approval for permanent residence
  • If you are a refugee, you can apply for U.S. citizenship five years after your entry to the U.S. no matter when you became a permanent resident.

The other conditions that should be met before you can apply for U.S. citizenship is, you should have good moral character when you had the Green Card and you should have lived in the U.S. for most of the time. When you become a U.S. citizen, you are allowed to petition for your family members to immigrate to the United States.

If you are not eligible for U.S. citizenship, then you have to renew your Green Card by filing Form I-90. If you are a conditional resident and your status is expiring do not file Form I-90. Conditional Permanent Residents are required to file a petition to remove conditions within 90 days of the expiration date. If you are a conditional resident based on marriage, you are required to file Form I-751. If your conditional status is based on being an investor or entrepreneur, you must file Form I-829.

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188 Responses to Should I renew my Green Card or apply for citizenship?

  1. Pingback: US Immigration News and Resources « Get US Immigration Help

  2. Salman K says:

    I have a unique situation and wondering if someone can respond. My spouse is temporary permanent resident. I did apply for my spouse removal of condition I-751 in Oct 2009. Finger printing was done in Nov of 2009. We have not received 10 years green card yet. Its almost one year. I am a US national. I am thinking about initiating N-400 now as 3 years of resident status will be completed in Dec. Wondering if I can apply for N-400 or not?


  3. RESS says:


    While the Racial Citizenship Conference 2012 is being planned please feel free to get familiar with the new and improved colour coded approved and extended


  4. Wilmer says:


    I am asylee and have had my green card for 4 years now. I would like to send my application for naturalization as soon as possible. I read your posting above:

    “•If you are an asylee, you can apply for U.S. citizenship four years after your approval for permanent residence”

    However, I cannot find this information on the BCIS website. Do you have the code section/webpage were you found this information?



    • Paul says:

      I got the information from this book:

      U.S. Immigration Made Easy
      by Ilona Bray

      Chapter 13.

      I generally read some books, periodicals and articles and the information on my blog is not to be considered as legal advice.

      You can call the USCIS at their toll free number 1-800-375-5283. An agent should be able to tell you where you can find this information on their website, or better yet, explain it to you better. You could also request to talk to an immigration officer if you need more information.

  5. Kevin Kallis says:

    If you got your green card because of your refugee or political asylum status, part of your time as a
    refugee or asylee can be counted as if you were a permanent resident (known as “rollback”).
    If you were granted refugee status while you were in another country, you can count the date you
    entered the united states as the beginning of your permanent residence. it doesn’t matter how many
    years you lived in the united states as a refugee as long as you eventually become a permanent
    resident—all those years will count as if you were a permanent resident.

    The rules differ for immigrants who were granted political asylum after they reached the United States. The maximum rollback for asylees is one year—if you waited longer than a year to apply for your green card, that extra time won’t be counted toward your permanent residency period. in summary, you can apply for citizenship four years after your approval for permanent residence.

  6. Jen says:

    My green card has expired, and I am wondering if I can apply for citizenship instead of renewing my green card. I am hoping that I can so that I don’t have to pay to get my green card renewed and then pay again for the application for citizenship.

    • Paul says:

      Your decision will depend on a few things. First, you will need to determine whether you are eligible for citizenship. If you have had your green card for at least five years, have maintained US residence for most of that time, and have good moral character, you may qualify for citizenship. Its advisable to keep your green card up to date.

  7. Brent Wood says:

    In order to keep your card updated, greencard holders need to enter the Green Card Renewal process by filing Form I-90.

    Apply Green Card

  8. Salman K says:

    In case anyone is interested in knowing what did we do in our case. We did get green card approval notice just a couple days before we were ready to send the N-400 application. I called USCIS and was advised that I should include that notice.

    Entire process went smoothly. We got plastic green card just one day before my spouse went for the naturalization interview. We got lucky. But in case you don’t receive it, its still okay to proceed.

    Hope it helps.

  9. Alen says:

    I have quick question I hope someone can help me with. My green card is expiring, but I am pretty sure I have lost it. Do I need to replace it before getting it renewed???

  10. ismail says:

    can i apply for the naturalization while im renewing the greencard ,,,its been 10 years and theres 2 months only left and i had to renew it in order to apply for the citizenship but the question here is \the renewing is on process …can i apply now or i have to wait till i get the card ?a

  11. Stef says:

    Hi, I was wondering. I had my re-newal Permanent Resident Card approved on June 2011 and I want to apply for U.S. citizenship.

    I have been living in the United States since 1990 and I had an expired green card since 1994. I was born in Indonesia and came to the states in 1990. Permanent Residence is renewed and approved on June 2011 last year. I’m planning to go Canada in the very near future and I plan to fly out there, too. I’ve crossed the border a few times to see my boyfriend at Canada and had my Permanent Residence approved last year. But I want to apply for a U.S. citizenship and I had a small minor case of the law that I failed to appear but is dismissed. It’s in my records though. Also, I don’t have a passport because my dad burned it. About being a U.S. citizen, I’m planning to apply U.S. citizenship next month in March of 2012.

    Will it take a long time 5 years for USCIS to approve me as a U.S. citizen or less?

    • Paul says:

      You have already waited in United States for 5 years, you can apply for US Citizenship. Naturalization processing time takes 20 weeks time, you need to have Indonesia passport you traveling until you obtain US Passport after becoming Citizenship.

  12. Andrea says:

    My Green Card expires in less than 2 months. Am I too late to apply for a citizenship. Or is there some sort of extension that can get for my Green Card to file for the citizenship.

  13. Maria says:

    if my green card does not expire until june do I still have enough time to file for naturalization or do I have to renew my green card first

  14. FM says:

    My situation is unique. I was supposed to get a 2 year green card (Condition PR based on marriage) but instead i got a green card for 10 years (from 2006 to 2016). Last year (2011) i applied for citizenship and i went for interview. After the interview the immigration requested me to send them some information which they thought was missing on my application. After they got the information the immigration called me and said that i did not apply to remove conditions on my PR. They advised me to file I-751 at their Service Station and i did 19 days ago. I am still waiting for an answer from them. I am still married to my wife and she signed for me on my I-751. Can the immigration revoke my green card because i did not file I-751 in time? Can i also be denied citizenship because of this? Can i also leave the country with the current green card before finger printing and interviews for I-751?

  15. Joanna says:

    I lost my green card, & now I can apply for citizenship, do I have to pay for a replacement green card AND for citizenship?

    • Paul says:

      That’s right, you must renew your Green card and even for the Citizenship. One must hold a valid Green Card while filing for Citizenship.

  16. Nora says:

    My friend has a Temporary resident card issued in 1988. He applied for the form I-698 to adjust to Permanent resident. The service denied his application stating that he failed his citizenship test. My friend does not want to become a citizen he wants to become a permanent resident. So should his wife who is a US citizen petition him or his 30 year old daughter who is also a citizen petition him, or can he apply for the I-90?

    • Paul says:

      You must be aware only permanent residence can apply for Citizenship. So how can he fail citizenship test? When he tried adjusting to Permanent Resident.

      Either of them can petition for your friend either spouse or daughter. Spouse will be quicker. Form I-90 is used to renew the Permanent Residence, was he successful using From I-698, if so he is a permanent residence.

    • giante2 says:

      I have another situation I’m trying to remove conditions from green card and I have a child before my marriage and He was born in USa, Should I include my child on I751 application. ?

  17. hanna says:

    I have passed my neutralization test and is waiting for a decision…. i just found out that i had lost my green card and i dont know what to do. i dont wanna pay for a new card and then get taken away when they make my decision in 120 days and become a citizen. WHAT SHOULD I DO PLEASE HELP!

    • Paul says:

      Call or get a info pass and tell the USCIS of your status. They might just let it be or ask you to get a new card before your interview or even give you a temp document to get you through the oath.

      But either way you must contact them before your oath date.

  18. Wichuda Kuntong says:

    My green card had expired for six months now can i apply for citizenship with epired green card?

  19. Svend says:

    I arrived in the States in 2008, but didnt apply for the Permanent Resident card till 2010. Would those years from 2008 count into 4 years since my wife whom I married in 2007 is a Citizen. My question are therefore: would I be able to apply for the N-400 Naturalization to become a Citizen? or does it have to count from the day I applied/got my Permanent Resident card? Thanks in advance.!

    • Svend says:

      Just popped up in my head, since my wife is born US Citizen, would I be able to get Naturalized via her? or does that only count if spouse became a Citizen and not born here?

      • Paul says:

        She need to file a petition in order to become US Citizen.

        Firstly, Form I-130 in establishing relation with the petitioner and yourself. Later adjust the status to obtain Green Card and since its marriage based you will obtain Conditional Green Card, you need to remove after 2 years of marriage, and in the 3rd year you can file for US Citizenship.

    • Paul says:

      Main criteria in order to become US Citizen is to hold Green Card for 5 years(3 years for marriage based Green Card). Its from the day you hold Green Card, not when you filed for it.

  20. Celly says:

    thanks for clarifying many confussions

  21. Neo says:

    I am a permanent resident (green card holder) since 2004. Can I apply for a US citizenship although every year I have spent most of my time outside the country (never was outside the country over a year, between 4-10 months)? Thank you

    • Paul says:

      As per the law, the eligibility criteria for the application of American citizenship are as follows:

      You must be at least 18 years old.
      You should have resided in America as a permanent and lawful resident for a minimum of 5 years and the absences, if any, should not be a total of more than one year.
      You should have a period of physical presence and continuous residence in the United States.
      You should be of good moral character.
      Should be able to speak, write, read and understand simple English language.
      Should be capable of demonstrating the basic understanding and knowledge of history and government of America.

  22. CS says:


    My conditional green card (through marriage to a US citizen) has expired and I have been granted a 1 year extension on receipt of lodging Form I-751 within the required time frame.

    1. Am I still considered a permanent resident while my application is being processed to have conditions lifted?

    2. What documentation can I provide to a bank to confirm my permanent resident status so that I can secure a mortgage? My concern is that they will equate an expired conditional 2 year green card with temporary or non-resident status.

    Thank you

    • Paul says:

      You are not out of status. Since you have been granted one year extension, you still are a conditional permanent resident. Since you have to file within 90 days of your Conditional residency expiration, they are automatically extending your conditional LPR status for one year. Keep this document with your expired Green Card to show as evidence that you are still legal.

  23. luis says:

    I’m an assyle, got my green card in 2010, when can i apply for citizenship?

  24. Noona says:

    Hello, I applied for US citizenship since March. I did the finger print process in April. I’m waiting for the interview date. In the meantime, my green card is expired in mid July. Do I have to renew my green card?

  25. Damien Thibodeau says:

    Hello, my wife was issued a Permanent Resident Card in 2003 and will expire next year. She got divorced November 2008 and married me in May of 2009. Her Resident card still has her Prior Married name. I am in the Military and stationed in California. Will it be a problem getting her card renewed and updated with her current last name? Also, which forms are needed? And since she got Married again can we renew sooner than the 6 months out?

    • Paul says:

      If she received Green Card based on marriage, she will hold Conditional Green Card, which to be removed after 2 years of marriage. Guess its removed, in the year 2005, so her Green Card will expire on 2015.

      You need to use Form I-90 and your marriage certificate in changing the name in the Green Card as proof.

      • Damien Thibodeau says:

        Her conditional status expired in 2003. Her card will expire Sept 2013. Since she remarried in 2009, can we renew her Permanent Resident Card sooner than 6 months out due to Name Change and Address Change?

      • Paul says:

        My personal suggestion is to file for US Citizenship rather than filing for Green Card Renewal and change the name and address along with it. Unnecessary you have to spend more money on renewal again you for Citizenship.

        Else, file for AR-11 to notify USCIS for change in address. Submit a proof of name change along with Form I-90.

      • Damien Thibodeau says:

        You still didn’t answer my question. Due to the circumstances of name change by marriage and Address change, plus expiration date next year, Can we renew sooner than 6 months out? She doesn’t want the US Citizenship. She just wants to renew her Visa for another ten years.

      • Paul says:

        Not necessary to be early, green cards have expired or will expire in the next 6 months should renew their green cards by filing USCIS Form I-90. You may also request to change your name on your new card when you file your renewal application (if it has been legally changed).

  26. Mil says:

    Hello My green card has expired since 2004 i am married to a us citizen for about 2 years now and have a 6 month baby plus 3 other kids that are citizens what should i do should i renew my green card??? I don’t know what to do??

    • Paul says:

      If you are living outside of the US for an extended period of time, then you can be deemed to have abandoned your status. You already have green card you just need to renew them.

  27. Mil says:

    I wanted to know what could happen to me I have an expired green card but I got married 2 years ago to a us citizen

    • Paul says:

      Permanent Resident status is just that- permanent. The green cards expire, but the status does not. Please renew to the earliest.

  28. Iqra says:

    My conditional green card (through marrying a US Citizen) will expire on June 5 2012. How do I renew it or what step should I take?

    • Paul says:

      About 90 days before the expiry date on a conditional green card, the applicant is responsible for filing USCIS form I-751 (Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence). If USCIS approves your petition, the conditions on your green card will be removed and you will be issued a Permanent Green Card (which lasts for ten years before it has to be renewed).

  29. stella namuga says:

    I am a US CITIZEN, my husband’s asylum case just got approved. She has to wait a year to get a greencard and citizenship after 5years. But is it possible for me to petition for her so she can get it quicker

    • Paul says:

      Luckily, the year you spend as an asylee counts as one of the five years. If you file for Green Card based on marriage, adjustment of status to obtain Green Card will consume extra time and complex process, you have to spend money on removing the conditional residence again after 2 years.

      So suggest to carry on as you are ultimately obtain Green Card via Asylee Status.

  30. debra williams says:

    Hi my conditional status is up and I did all the fingerprinting, my concern is that what do I do when applying for a job and they ask to see my PR card and it shows expires. I did not receive any authorazation card to show im legal to work.

  31. carol says:

    hi i have a question, i have a friend whos permanent card will expire in four months does have to file I-90? If so what option does he chose for the question “Reason for apllication” Thanks…

      • Brandon says:

        Hi Paul maybe you can answer my question,

        I went to do my naturalization interview today and the last step now is to wait to do the oath ceremony. The problem is my permanent resident card is going to expire in a few weeks. Can I get an extension from the naturalization office? Or would I need to get my residents card renewed?

      • Paul says:

        Now call or get a info pass and tell the USCIS of your status, they ‘might‘ give you a temp document to get you through the Oath.

      • Brandon says:

        Than you for the response Paul,

        I went ahead and setup an appointment through info pass. The Earliest appointment is set after the expiration on my residents card. Should I pay to get it renewed now or wait for my appointment date to see if they can give me a temp pass to take my oath?

        Paying 450 to renew my residents card doesn’t seem to make since when I will be doing an oath in a few weeks to get my citizen ship.

        Please let me know what’s best. I appreciate your help

      • Paul says:

        As I mentioned you might be given temporary card, even if you renew you won’t be getting your Green Card within a week.

        Hope for the best.

  32. Thao says:

    My green card was lost after I came back from Asia. I had infopass appointment to get my Alien number and the immigration officer told me that I can apply for citizenship without the green card. He also gave me his name for reference. So is it true that I can apply just with the Alien number? Can I apply to replace my green card, apply for citizenship, and apply for the Fee waiver all at the same time?

    • Paul says:

      Do not risk it, if you lost it, get it replace during the citizenship interview they will ask for the Alien Card as necessary document.

      You want fee waiver for both Green card as well Citizenship?

      • Thao says:

        Ok. I’ll file I-90 to replace and send the receipt to file N-400 later. And yes I’ll try to attach the fee waiver form with each application. I’m a full time college student without a job and also one of the dependents on my mom’s tax. My mom’s income is low btw

      • Paul says:

        All the best. You are filing for fee waiver along so no worries.

  33. eddie says:

    Does anyone know what type of questions are in an application for citizenship?

  34. crystal says:

    Hello quick question after marrying a us citizen and getting the conditional green card instead of removing the condition after the two years can i go ahead and apply for my citizenship instead ? and after entering the us on a k-1 visa do i need to go in for an interview for adjusting my status or will they just mail my green card to me?

  35. charl says:

    hi paul, i have a question too. I am a legal resident since november 2006. I recently just got married May 18, 2012 (to a US citizen). I am planning to change my maiden name to my married name and also have been planning to apply for US citizenship (since I have been here more than 5 years with my immigrant status) However I am not sure which of the two should I do first. I am a little hesitant in changing my name first since I am not sure If that would cause delays in my application for citizenship. At the same time, I beleive I would have to change my name soon and prove our marriage in order for me to include my husband in my health insurance. Which do you suggest I do first?

    • Paul says:

      While you apply for Citizenship you can submit your present proof that you have already changed your name according to the legal requirements that apply to persons living in your State, USCIS can issue the Certificate of Naturalization with your new name.

  36. Micky says:

    I am in the middle of the naturalization process – just got fingerprinted and hopefully will have my interview soon. However: My green card will expire on July 31st – does it need to to valid at the date of the interview or the date of the oath? It was valid when I submitted my application in April. I don’t see any problems with getting the citizenship application approved – I have been living legally in the US for more than 10 years.
    Any answers/thoughts are greatly appreciated.

    • Paul says:

      If you apply for naturalization less than 6 months before the expiration date on your green card, or if it has already expired, you must renew your green card. You must renew your Green Card reason being you filed for Naturalization before 3 month of Green Card expiration.

  37. Chris says:

    HI, My wife got her green card (I 151) when her family moved here in 1974 from Italy, she was 14 at the time, she has never renewed or proceeded to get naturalized..she was married at 18 for 8 years (had 3 kids), divorced. We have been married for 13 yrs.What should she do ?..get a renewed card with name change and then apply for citizenship?

    • Paul says:

      You have a previous version of the alien registration card (e.g., USCIS Form AR-3, Form AR-103 or Form I-151 – all no longer valid to prove your immigration status) and must replace it with a current green card. Later you can apply for Citizenship.

  38. Tom says:

    Hi. I had my fingerprints taken 3 months ago for the purpose of naturalization. Now that I’ve been denied citizenship I have to renew my green card so here’s my question – do I have to pay the biometrics fee again or will they use the fingerprints from 3 months ago? Thanks.

  39. Damien Thibodeau says:

    My wife needs to do a Name Change and Address Change for her Permanent Resident Card. I know we need to do the Form I-90. The question is, do we need to mail the original Permanent Resident Card along with the Form I-90? Or can we keep the card and mail the I-90 and Marriage Cert?

    • Paul says:

      “If you are applying to replace a card because of a name change, you must bring the original court order or a certified copy of a court order or marriage certificate reflecting the new name to your in-person appearance at the ASC.

  40. Thao says:

    I filed form I-90 to replace my lost Green Card. Soon I got the form 797C Notice of Action and it has receipt number on it. Now I want to apply for Naturalization N-400. Regarding the info on uscis website, we can attach the receipt to apply for N-400. So can I attach the copy of the form 797C or I have to wait for other forms??

    • Paul says:

      You do not need to wait to receive the new card before filing for naturalization. You should, however, wait until you receive the I-797 Receipt Notice for Form I-90 before you file the N-400 application.

  41. Lourdes says:

    Hello, Maybe someone can’t help me. My resident elien card was issue in October of 1976 not sure if it has ever been renewed. My current card has no expiration date and I have since been married and relocated. Should my card be renew or replace and what form do I need to proceed the process? Thank you!

    • Paul says:

      Although these green cards do not have an expiration date, the law requires all cards to be updated to the new version. Its the same procedure as the new one, use Form I-90 in replacement for the new card.

  42. Patricia Cummins says:

    My sister is u.s citizen she filed for me, i have been living in the u.s for thireen years and never leave, how long it take for me to filed citizenship.

  43. cheryle says:

    I have gotten divorced after 12 yrs of marriage. My permanent green card will expire in oct.i have been a resident since 2000. will the divorce keep me from renewing????..what steps do i have to do to renew?? need help please!

  44. Damien Thibodeau says:

    How long will it take to receive a renewed Green Card once the paperwork has been submitted?

  45. Petchie says:

    Hi Paul,
    My conditional green card (through marriage to a US citizen) has expired in June 16 and I have been granted a 1 year extension on receipt of lodging Form I-751 within the required time frame, my question is can I apply for a citizenship before I get the new green card or do I have to wait for it.

    • Paul says:

      You need to wait a mere three years to apply for U.S. citizenship if, during that time, you have been a permanent (or conditional) resident married to, as well as living with, a U.S. citizen.

      • Petchie says:

        So two years of conditional green card and waiting time for green card still count, correct? Is that mean after I get my new green card, if it has been three years I can go ahead and apply for a citizenship with out waiting for three more years, right?

  46. Maizie Bourgeois says:

    I have been in the U.S. since I was 4 o 5 years old, we had moved here from Canada. My parents took out permanant residence and I had a green card for about 50 years now. I lost my card and it was not renewed. I would like to become a US citizen. Also, my Dad is dying and he might be burried in Canada. I would like to attend funeral, but I know there probably is not time to get this resolved before he passes. What to do?

    • Paul says:

      First you apply for Form I-90, have the receipt of the renewal.

      Its very hard to enter US back on the expired Green Card. At least with receipt you can enter back to US.

  47. andyg714 says:

    I came to US in 1986. My mom acquired a green card for me. I obtained it during high school about 2001. It is now lost and expired. I don’t know my Alien Registration Number that the I-90 asks for. I don’t know how to proceed to renew my Green Card in order to apply for N-400. I actually never knew the number and was unaware that i needed to inform my employers that i was a legal non citizen. I received my SSN during high school as well and used that and my assumption that i was legally here and able to legally work. I pay taxes and abide by the law but I read I could have my legal status taken away for not informing my employer. I have an appointment with USCIS to obtain information on how to proceed with the I-90 regarding my Alien Registration Number. Should I inform them of my employment History and how iv’e been filing my taxes? I plan on applying for N-400 as soon as i get the I-90 going. HELP!

    • Paul says:

      Schedule ‘Infopass’ appointment with USCIS. Find out with the officials.

      Before that you must file a case at the Police, about your lost Green Card. Carry your passport to the USCIS appointment they will see your stamping when you entered US whether was it immigrant Status or non-immigrant.

  48. jomie says:

    I have a question my conditional green card will expired on december 15, 2012 and I am planning to visit my family on october for 3 weeks, and wants to renew or removed my conditional green card for 10 years green card by september, is it possible for me to leave the US while my application is on going? If ever I leave the country without having my conditional residents card renewed, do u think I will have a problem coming back to US?

    • Paul says:

      Yes, entering back will be a problem. Its advisable you file to remove the conditional residence, once you receive the receipt you can leave US. The receipt stating that your green card has been extended for 1 year is sufficient with you greencard and passport. You do need to make sure that while you are away you receive notice of any scheduled interview at the USCIS.

  49. nina martinez says:

    i lost my green card and i think it was somewhere at my previous apartment that i was living at. I was scared and I did not know what to do. Do I report it to the police or what? and if I do apply for a replacement when should I expect to receive it? my green card is the one without the expiration date.

    • Paul says:

      Immediately report a lost/stolen green card to the local police station. You need to replace your Green Card. You should have renewed for the new one long back, its not too late you replace and obtain a new Green Card with expiration date.

  50. hlen says:

    Hello, My name is Helen.I am Brazilian,I have my green card 8 years but i was in brazil more than usa for take care my mom ( she was very sick) now I am in usa 2 years.Can i replay my citzen? or i did not live here for suficient?

    • Paul says:

      Why you have to re-apply for Citizenship? You just need to understand the concept of physical presence and continuous residence before filing for US Citizenship.

      Continuous Residence: Resided continuously in the U.S. for five years before applying.

      Physical Presence: Physically present in the U.S. for thirty months within the five year period before applying.

  51. kwok ha says:

    i am an us citizen for over 25 yrs, my wife got her permanent resident thru employment on jan 2009, i married her on oct 2008, how long does she have to wait to apply for citizenship

    • Paul says:

      Since she got her permanent residence based on employer in 2009 not based on marriage she must wait for 5 year before filing for Citizenship.

  52. FAYE says:

    Hi, do anyone know what documents the INS ask when renewing permanent resident green card in NJ office, do they ask for any income tax returns

    • Paul says:

      When you are applying for Green Card renewal, you must see that the application is accompanied by the following documents:
      Photocopies of back and front pages of the expired or expiring Green Card
      A photo identity document like a valid passport or a state driver’s license along with FormI-90.

  53. FAYE says:


    • Paul says:

      If you are outside the United States and your green card will expire within 6 months (but you will return within 1 year of your departure from the United States and before the card expires), you should file for your renewal card as soon as you return to the United States.

      Continuous and Physical Residence Requirement for Citizenship. Extended absences outside of the U.S. may disrupt an applicant’s continuous residence. Absences of more than six months but less than one year may disrupt an applicant’s continuous residence unless the applicant can prove otherwise. Physically present in the U.S. for thirty months within the five year period before applying. (Physically present in the U.S. for eighteen months within the three year period before applying in the case of qualified spouses of U.S. citizens).

  54. thia says:

    my boyfriend had apply for citizenship on June 5th and just did his finger printing on July 3rd but i just realize that his green card will be expired on August 24th 2012. can he get an extension ?

    • Paul says:

      If you apply for naturalization 6 months or more before the expiration date on your Permanent Resident Card, you do not have to apply for a new card. Else you need to renew your Green Card.

    • Micky says:

      I had the same problem – my Green Card expired AFTER my finger printing and BEFORE my interview (which I had earlier this week). As long as the application has already been accepted by the USCIS, it is not necessary to get an extension – that was told to me personally by an immigration officer. It is NOT necessary to have a valid Green Card at the date of the appointment or the oath. The expiration of the Green Card does not mean that the residency status is lost – just like you don’t lose your citizenship when your passport expires. Right now the processing times for a Green Card renewal are significantly longer than the processing time for a Naturalization application. Again, this information was given to me in person by a immigration officer.

  55. Caroline says:

    Hi Paul, I thank you for your page.

    I want to have a different last name on my Citizenship, I started a name changing process with my country, and I am wondering if I can apply with my old name and hange it during the interview? or should I wait for my new name and apply then? Thank you

    • Paul says:

      You need a proof(Court Order), only then you can change the name in your Citizenship.

      At the interview they will go through your application again and will ask you same questions whats on your application and then they will ask you if you want to change your name. You can say YES and then they will take your info of what name you want to change to and then they will notify you by mail when your Oath Ceremony is and give you the Certificate there with the NEW name on it 🙂

  56. My Green Card expires on 9/05 (in less than a month), can I apply for Neutralization instead of renewing my card?

  57. Robert W. says:

    My mother received permanent status as an Asylee in 2003 here in USA, but due to certain circumstances health related and because her English is not fluent, she failed to apply for Green Card until 2010. She is now 73 years old and I was wondering if there is any law that will allow her apply for citizenship earlier than the required 4-5 years.I ask this because if she doesnt receive the citizenship, her health insurance and SSI will be canceled. Can you please help me with any information? Thank you in advance and God bless you for helping everyone in here.Very much appreciated.

    • Robert W. says:

      ps. She did receive her Green Card as a permanent resident on 2010.

    • Paul says:

      The asylee must apply for a green card after one year of living inside the U.S, how did she obtained her Green Card?

      Law in obtaining US Citizenship require holding Green card for certain year before filing for Citizenship so she must wait until then.

      • Robert W. says:

        Not necessarily. They can apply for GC after a year but is not a must,depending on what’s the expiration date of their status.My mothers was indefinite so she could have stayed as long as she wanted without GC and have no problem, Thank you for your answer.

      • Paul says:

        What I meant was you can file for permanent residents after one year of asylum application has been approved (You can wait for more then one year also).

  58. Natalie says:

    i received Permanent Residence by marraige March 2004 it expires in 2014. living apart from husband for past 6 yrs, no legal separation or divorce. Can I apply for Citizenship under the 5 year rule and without my husband as we are not together.

  59. Natalie says:

    Natalie :
    i received Permanent Residence by marraige March 2004 it expires in 2014. living apart from husband for past 6 yrs, no legal separation or divorce. Can I apply for Citizenship under the 5 year rule and without my husband as we are not together.

    This is in the USA

    • Paul says:

      If you received your green card through marriage to a U.S. citizen, you may be able to apply for citizenship through naturalization after having your green card for three years with following rules:
      1. You must be married to a U.S. citizen.
      2. You must be a lawful permanent resident – green card holder.
      3. You must have resided continuously within the United States for a period of at least three years after having received permanent residence.
      4. You must have been “living in marital union” with the citizen spouse for the three years immediately preceding the date of examination on the application, and your spouse has been a United States citizen for the duration of that three year period.

  60. jennifer says:

    hi mom’s green card will expired january of 2013.she’s planning to take her vacation in the philippines november, 2012 and be back february of question is how long will it take to renew a green card expiring within six months?thank you very much!

    • Paul says:

      Currently, it takes about five months (national average processing time) to receive your new Green Card. However, you will be issued temporary proof of your lawful permanent resident status when you go to renew your card.
      If your temporary proof of status expires before you receive your new Green Card, you should go to your local USCIS District or Sub-Office (not the Application Support Center).

  61. Diem Nguyen says:

    I’m already filled out form N-400 and sent it to the USCIS, but unfortunately, i lost my green card, and i just receive a mail for my biometric, what should i do now?

    • Paul says:

      Since the application processing time will take more than six month to one year, until then you must keep your Green card with you for any of the situation. Its advisable to file for new Green card using Form I-90. And also during interview they ll ask for Green Card, at the time of Oath you need to surrender.

  62. Olga says:

    Hi, i also have a question regarding my green card. I’ve been a resident since 2009 and i do have my permanent(10 year) green card now. I got it though marriage. Due to some issues my husband and i are filing for divorce now. Im concerned about one thing – if i take back my maiden name, do i have to change the green card immediately or is there a chance just to wait to get it done when i apply for a citizenship, which is only 1,5 from now. So what is the best thing for me to do?

  63. Hi…i applied to remove conditional status on my green card and got a letter of extension for one at the end of this year which will be the third year after i obtained my green card based on marriage to us citizen.. can i apply for the naturalization process to become a US citizen before i receive the 10 years green card? in other words can i apply for citizenship
    while my I-751 is pending and i did not receive the 10 years card or apply for any other form beside the N-400?

    Thank you for your help

    • Paul says:

      Since your I-751 is been pending, the officer that will look at your N-400 will call in your I-751 to review it if it has not been processed by the time he is almost complete with your N-400 application.

      You can apply 3 years less 90 days from the date on the green card(Conditional).

  64. Tim Johnson says:

    Hi- I got married and moved to the US with my citizen wife in 2009. I was granted conditional resident which I got removed in May 2011. Now I am done with 3 years of residency but out of that, only 1 year as permanent residenct and 2 as conditional. Am I eligible to apply for US citizenship? We have been married for 5 years.

    Thank you,

    • Paul says:

      These will give you clear answer for your question.

      How do I know if I can apply under the three year rule?

      You must be married to a U.S. citizen.
      You must be a lawful permanent resident – green card holder.
      You must have resided continuously within the United States for a period of at least three years after having received permanent residence.
      You must have been “living in marital union” with the citizen spouse for the three years immediately preceding the date of examination on the application, and your spouse has been a United States citizen for the duration of that three year period.

      • Tim Johnson says:

        I am fine under all the condition but confused on “You must have resided continuously within the United States for a period of at least three years after having received permanent residence.”
        I received a conditional resident card. Is that considered permanent residence though? if yes, then I am fine as somebody told me that if I received a conditional resident card and got the conditions removed to receive a permanent resident(greencard), I can still apply. As that covers my 3 years of permanent residency. Is that true?

  65. Jessica Griffin says:

    My situation is different then the ones i have read but i need all the help i can get. I am canadian and i married an american. So i am here on a condition green card. Which expires in march of 2013. I love my husband but i have recently found out he is cheating on me. I want to stay in this country permanatly this is my home now but i know that i can not apply for citizenship. Is there such a thing as an extention to stay in this county until my divorce is final. My lawyer is telling that there is no way we can get it completed before i must go back and that will hurt me in court. Or is there another way for me to stay permanently!

    • Paul says:

      If you are no longer married to your spouse, or if you have been battered or abused by your spouse, you can apply to waive the joint filing requirement. In such cases, you may apply to remove the conditions on your permanent residence any time after you become a conditional resident.

      You may request a waiver of the joint petitioning requirements if:

      Your deportation or removal would result in extreme hardship

      You entered into your marriage in good faith, and not to evade immigration laws, but the marriage ended by annulment or divorce, and you were not at fault in failing to file a timely petition

      You entered into your marriage in good faith, and not to evade immigration laws, but during the marriage you or your child were battered by, or subjected to extreme cruelty committed by your U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse, and you were not at fault in failing to file a joint petition

  66. joshua m herbert says:

    hi my name is joshua m herbert my question is my card expire years ago but i didnt know until i was renewing my lincences but now i cant renew because i have a expired card what do i do

  67. joshua m herbert :
    hi my name is joshua m herbert my question is my card expire years ago but i didnt know until i was renewing my lincences but now i cant renew because i have a expired card what do i do

  68. myriam plascencia says:

    i have a question: my perm resident card is expired and i havent renewed it bc i have already started the process of citizenship. i have a biometrics appointment next week to do fingerprints already. the process for me is going fast. my question is Do i need to renew my perm resident card to travel outside the country or can USCIS grant me an extension on my card since my citizenship is pending? i have a trip planned for June 2013 and dont think ill have citizenship or a passport by then.

    • Paul says:

      Myriam, I am not sure how far in to the citizenship process you are. I understand that by now you would have completed your biometrics. Have you been scheduled for your citizenship test and interview yet? You need to be present for that. In case your travel dates coincide with the appointment date, then you would need to request USCIS to reschedule. But before that, if you have to travel, you may have to get your passport stamped with the I-551. It is best that you either call USCIS for info or visit the nearest local office.

      • Erwin Lumanglas says:

        hi paul, i have a question..

        i now have 10 yrs green card… last yr, my citizenship was denied because they said that our 3 yrs marriage is not enough coz she was living back and forth my state to study so they said we are not together. we got a divorced last january. my question is, can i just filed using my 5 yrs residency in usa? this month is my 5th yr. should my denial be a factor or my application?



      • Paul says:

        James, from what you have said, I understand that your citizenship was denied based on the fact that you marriage was not 3 years old. And now you are divorced. Yes, you can apply for citizenship now based on having been a permanent resident for 5 years. Go ahead with your application if you meet all the other eligibility requirements as well.

  69. Sandra Gomez says:

    Hi I have a question I’m a permament resident and will like to apply for citizenship but I want to get married my residence expires on 10/30/2013 which is 7 months away should I apply for citizenship or should I just renew my residence card.

  70. Manuel says:

    Hi Paul,

    I’m a 26 year old male. I moved to the states with my parents in 1993 when I was 6 years old and I received my Permanent Resident Card in 2007. I am planning on applying for citizenship soon and had a few questions:

    1. Can an individual be denied citizenship due to bed credit or debt? I have bad credit and I am not up to date on my student loans and credit cards…
    2. Can you be denied citizenship due to being on unemployment? I graduated University in 2008 with a BA but went on unemployment for a couple years due to the recession and all..
    3. Can you be denied citizenship due to filing bankruptcy? I haven’t filed bankruptcy yet but have thought about it…
    4. Is there a website or phone number you can call, enter your info and be told when you are allowed to apply for citizenship?
    5. Lastly, I lost my wallet in a cab, along with my Permanent Resident Card. Can you please explain the process of obtaining a new one and any fees that are assessed?

    Thank you for your response.

    • Paul says:

      Looks like you have a lot going against you as far as applying for citizenship is concerned. You will have to first apply for a green card replacement. You will have to file Form I-90 and the fees for this is $450.

      I know that you need to have filed all your taxes to be able to apply for citizenship. The cost for applying is $680. You may be able to apply for a waiver. Yours is a delicate situation, so the best way to get info is to call the USCIS at their toll free number. Hope this helps!

  71. kaur says:

    hi my husband case approved from uscis and intervue done medical done what is next step

  72. pranav says:

    Hello Paul,
    I have received GC through marriage with US citizen.I have applied for removal of condition on my GC on July30,2012. My GC already expired on Sep29,2012. I have filed at Vermont Service center and still waiting for my card to arrive. I have already got the notice of one year extension.
    But my question is,
    How early I can apply for my citizenship. I heard I can send my documentation 90 days before I finish my 3 years of GC issue?
    If by that time I haven’t received my GC in mail, then what?

    • Paul says:

      If you have been married for 3 years, then you can apply 90 days before your finish 3 years of GC issue.

      Applying for citizenship now itself is fine, but what if your petition to remove conditions is rejected? God forbid. And what if you don’t receive your green card by the time your N-400 is processed. It may make sense to wait till you have a decision on the I-751 before you apply for citizenship. Meanwhile, you can prepare for the citizenship test and interview.

  73. sam says:

    hi Paul,
    i came to US in 1986 with a green card with no expired date on, can i apply for citizenship without renew the green card?

    • Paul says:

      Sam, it was required that people having green cards without an expiry date on them get their green cards replaced with new ones that are valid for 10 years. I am not so sure if you can apply for citizenship directly or if you would have to apply for a replacement of your green card first. I would recommend that you contact the USCIS customer support for info.

  74. Jose Ceballos says:

    I have a question a recently renewed my green card i havent received it i know i have an extencion for one year.. My question is can i just pay the dfrence of what i just payed and just apply for citizenship?

    • Paul says:

      Do you mean you had a conditional green card and you have applied for removal of conditions? If yes, you will have to wait till your petition is approved before you can apply for citizenship.

      If you were not a conditional resident, then the info you have provided here is insufficient for me to offer any response.

  75. Angi says:

    joshua m herbert :

    joshua m herbert :
    hi my name is joshua m herbert my question is my card expire years ago but i didnt know until i was renewing my lincences but now i cant renew because i have a expired card what do i do

    • Paul says:

      An expired green card does not mean that your status as a permanent resident has expired. This is as long as you had the 10 year green card. If you were a conditional resident it means your card was valid only for 2 years. In this case, you may have to seek the services of an immigration attorney. In case you had the regular green card that is valid for 10 years and it has expired, you should file Form I-90 to get your green card renewed.

      This is not legal advice so you can cross check with the USCIS by calling their customer support.

  76. Angi says:

    Hi My green card of 10 years expired 3 years ago. I couldnt financially afford to renew it. I am married to a US citizen for 17 years and have been living in the US for 13 years. can apply for citizenship without renewing my green card. if so what form should i use? Thank you!

  77. Dean says:

    Hi, Question about filling Form I 751 Change of Permanent status, is it too late to file if I file 20 days before expiration date of GC?

  78. Livia says:

    Hi, I have 14 weeks left before my green card expires. Is that enough time to get my citizenship or do I need to apply for renewal first?

  79. Mo Rash says:

    Kindly Help
    I married to US Citizen and I received my 2 years temporary green card on April 2010. I applied for Permanent Green card on April 2012 and received 10 years permanent on April 2013
    Now my question is can i apply for citizenship now or should I wait more. If yes how long more should i wait?

    Thank you for help

    • Paul says:

      You can apply for citizenship if you have been married for 3 years to your US citizen spouse and if you have had your green card for those 3 years. The time as a conditional resident also counts towards the three years to be eligible to apply for citizenship.

  80. Art says:

    I have been permanent resident for 9 years my green card is about to expire, someone stole my social security card and green card what will be my best option? I don’t know if I will have to change my social security number?

    • Paul says:

      Art, you should make a report with the police about your stolen green card and social security card. Also, apply for a replacement of your stolen green card using form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card.

  81. Robert Lee says:

    Hi. Paul, I am Robert. My green card expiry date is Jan. 22, 2014 and I already applied citizenship on Sep. 17, 2013. I already made fingerprints on Oct. 21 2013 and now I am waiting for interview.My question is that do I need to renew my green card due to I don’t know when I can be scheduled for interview, Pls advise.



  82. yaf says:

    My wife leave in Texas and i leave in Colorado we did not divorce so do you think it will affect our application for renew our permanent resident green card? and also our tax return is from different state of USA so do u think it will affect us too? please help us.

  83. Confused says:

    hi ..I have just been married and my husbands exwife who is living in the states filed for his green card ten years ago and now his case is current but too mad my husband divorced her. she just received her green card four years ago and now my husband received a letter asking him and my two step sons to make an appointment with the US embassy here in our country. What shall I do ? If I send the US embassy a copy of our marriage certificate will that cancel his application ?? I need to know because she needs to change her last name now since they are divorced .

  84. Eric Tomlinson says:

    Hi Paul: My Green Card expires at end August 2014 and I understand to renew I need to make application within 6 months prior to that date. If I also now apply for naturalization as a US citizen would I still be able to travel outside of the US on business while my US citizenship application was being processed?

    Thanks, Eric

  85. Dalyn says:

    I have a question, I just lost my green card when I had my vacation in the Philippines and I know that I can apply for citizenship right now. Is it ok for me to apply for citizenship instead of applying to replace my green card? Its money issue it is so expensive to pay for the replacement which I just applied last 2011. thanks

  86. hello paul.thank you soooo very much for all the imformation you give to all the question.i would like to know after receiving my new biometric permanent green card,when can I applied for my citizenship?i have beened leaving in the usa for 39 years.married to retired American and beened married for 39 years.thank you very very much for your time with us in need of are very kind and good hearted person thank you!!! pina.

  87. inee says:

    should i file for green card renewal or citizenship? i have some unpaid taxes from last year and have hired a lawyer to negotiate with IRS a payment plan. it will probably be put in effect in the next three to six months. my green card expires jan next year. i want to file to citizenship but am afraid USCIS will deny because i didnt pay any taxes last year even though i have a lawyer working on it and it isn’t done yet. is it safer to just file green card extension and then file citizenship when i have all my taxes fixed?

  88. I am a green card holder last april we get married with my husband in the Philippines. Is it okay if i have not yet change my marital status in my passport, green card, california id and sss. Can it affect if i file for the petition of my husband. thanks and wait for your reply.

  89. Cecilia says:

    I am applying at the same time to replace my green card (I unfortunately lost it) and I am applying for citizenship. Do I have to pay the biometrics twice?

  90. Not only has my green card expired, but my purse was stolen with the green card in it. Do I have the option to apply for citizenship? I have been in the U.S since I was 11 and I am now 42. I just want to stop paying for a green card every 10 years because the fees keep increasing. What can/should I do?

  91. rez says:

    I got divorced just one year before removing condition i have filed for petition for green card conditional removal I have received appointment date for bio metrics which is after couple of weeks . So I am planning to visit abroad after done my bio-metric and will come back as my GC has still few months left .i have additional supporting doc I-751 receipt (Extension for travel and work for one year) which i recived last month and I-751 fingerprint receipt
    Any suggestion will be highly appreciated regarding my travel.

  92. Cari says:

    Im planning to apply a us citizen,my question is am i eligible for naturalization though sometimes i travel back to my last travel i had is back 2011.i got my greencard feb2005

  93. Josie says:

    Hi I was married in the Phils. to a US citizen and we applied a spousal visa.It takes me 2 yrs and a months.Now i am here in US and i received my green card and as i looked the expiration date of my Green card is 2024.Do i need to apply I-751 after i stayed here for 1 yr and half or apply for a citizenship..

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