A lot of immigrants are ready to apply for U.S. citizenship but there are few concerns regarding applying for citizenship with an expired, expiring, or a lost green card. Below there is an explanation for each scenario.
Applying for Citizenship with Expired Green Card
If your Green Card is expired you may apply for citizenship but it is not recommended. Even though immigration law does not explicitly tell you to have a valid Green Card before applying for citizenship there is a law that says that a permanent resident should carry their Green Card with them all the time.
Because of this dilemma, it is recommended to renew your expired Green Card before applying for citizenship. USCIS also says that if a card is expiring within 6 months then you need to renew it so if it is expired then you should definitely renew it before applying for citizenship.
Applying for Citizenship with Expiring Green Card
Per the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) (formerly the INS), if your permanent resident card (Green Card) has less than six months of remaining validity, you must renew your Green Card prior to applying for U.S. Citizenship. You must submit a photocopy of your replacement Green Card when you apply to become a citizen.
You can renew your Green Card by filing Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card. If your Green Card will not expire for at least another six months and you meet the requirements to apply for U.S. citizenship, then you may choose to apply for citizenship instead of renewing your Green Card.
Should you renew your Green Card while waiting for citizenship?
If you have applied already for citizenship but your Green Card is expiring while you are waiting then it is recommended to renew your Green Card.
As mentioned before, a permanent resident should carry valid and unexpired proof of their lawful permanent residence status all the time. This law doesn’t change when you have applied for U.S. Citizenship. So you should renew your Green Card if it is expiring while you are waiting for Citizenship.
Applying for Citizenship if Green Card is lost or stolen
If you have lost your Green Card which is not expired, then you must apply for a replacement card by filing Form I-90. However, 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.
Once you submit the I-90 application to USCIS, you will receive the Application Receipt Notice with a receipt number and all other details regarding the interview and fingerprinting. As soon as you receive the Receipt Notice for Form I-90, you can proceed to file your N-400 application. You should include a copy of the Receipt Notice with the N-400 application.
On receipt of your application with the supporting documents and fees, USCIS will take up your application for initial processing.
On acceptance, they will mail you a Receipt Notice on Form I-797.
Once you receive the Notice of Action from USCIS you can make an “InfoPass” appointment with the USCIS to obtain an I-551 stamp in your passport.
The I-551 stamp in your passport serves as temporary proof that you are a permanent resident of the U.S.
You can use this stamp for all practical purposes that you would be able to use your plastic “Green Card” for employment, travel, and evidence of status. This stamp is valid for one year.