Can You Be Deported Because of an Expired Green Card?

Can You Be Deported Because of an Expired Green Card

Do you have an expired green card and concerned about being deported? Does the immigration status of someone in your family worry you? Is it time for you to file for a new permanent resident card? Talk to an attorney who can help you navigate the complex immigration system. Call now or complete the online contact form below to discuss your situation with an experienced local lawyer.

What Is an Expired Green Card?

U.S. immigration law allows certain individuals to apply for legal permanent residency. Individuals typically become permanent residents through family or employment sponsorships, although there are other ways to gain lawful status.

Permanent residents enjoy a variety of benefits, including the right to live in the U.S. indefinitely and to work for virtually any employer. The permanent resident card, commonly called a green card, is an identification document that proves a person’s legal permanent residency.

For most permanent residents, green cards are valid for 10 years. Nevertheless, some immigrants, such as those who receive permanent residency based on new marriages to U.S. citizens, receive green cards of shorter durations.

While it is always a good idea to apply for a renewed green card before your existing one expires, you may have a burning question on your mind: Can you be deported for an expired green card?

The simple answer is no, although there are some notable exceptions.

The Nature of Legal Permanent Residency

As its name suggests, legal permanent residency is supposed to be permanent. Provided you meet the eligibility requirements to be a permanent resident, you should stay one forever. Consequently, you may want to think of your permanent residency and your green card as separate matters.

Because the green card has a photograph and other identifying information, government officials put an expiration date on it. This expiration date allows immigration officers to update the card you carry from time to time.

Even though your green card may expire, your permanent residency does not. Therefore, when the card is past its expiration date, you are still a legal permanent resident unless you do something to lose or abandon the status.

A Note on Conditional Residency

If you received your green card because of your marriage to a U.S. citizen, you may have a conditional card. This is likely if you were married to your spouse for fewer than two years when you received your permanent residency.

Conditional residents must apply to have the conditions removed. Usually, this involves filing a simple form and attending an interview with your spouse and immigration officials. Upon approval, immigration officers replace your two-year card with a permanent one.

With conditional residency, your status is tied to the expiration date on your green card. If you do not file to remove the conditions before the card expires, your status is in jeopardy. That is, you may be subject to deportation proceedings.

Losing or Abandoning Legal Permanent Residency

Applying for legal permanent residency is a complex process that often takes a number of months or even years to complete. Once you have permanent residency, you can usually depend on it to last forever. This is generally true regardless of the expiration date on your green card. It is possible to lose your status, though.

Removal Proceedings

Individuals lose legal permanent residency when an immigration judge orders them removed from the country. Government officials may institute removal proceedings against you for a variety of reasons.

For example, you may commit a crime involving violence or moral turpitude that renders you deportable. If you committed fraud when applying for legal permanent residency, you may also be removable from the country.


Immigration authorities may also seek to rescind your permanent residency if you were not eligible for it. This may happen if officers made a mistake when granting your status. Before rescinding your permanent residency, however, officials must show you are not eligible for permanent residency under any provision of federal law.


While an immigration judge or immigration officials may try to end your permanent residency, you can do so yourself. If you abandon your status, you are no longer a legal permanent resident.

Here are some common ways individuals abandon their permanent residency:

  • Moving to another country with the intention of staying there permanently
  • Claiming to be a nonimmigrant for tax purposes
  • Staying outside the U.S. for an extended time without obtaining advance permission to do so

If you have extended travel plans but do not want to abandon your permanent residency, you should consider applying for a re-entry permit. This permit demonstrates your intention to maintain your residency. A returning resident visa usually has the same effect.

The Process of Renewing a Green Card

While the expiration date on your green card probably does not mean the end of your permanent residency, you have an affirmative obligation to renew your card before it expires. Immigration officials recommend filing for a renewal six months before the existing card’s expiration.

To renew your green card, you must file the appropriate forms with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services service center with jurisdiction over your place of residence. You also must pay a filing fee and have immigration officials capture some biometric information.

Sometimes, individuals who want to renew their expiring green cards must attend an in-person interview with an immigration officer. These interviews are rare for ordinary green card renewals, however.

Work With an Experienced Local Lawyer

U.S. immigration law is incredibly complicated. Even something seemingly simple, such as renewing an expiring green card, has the potential to become problematic. Unfortunately, there is little room for error. If you run into trouble, you may face serious consequences.

An experienced local attorney can carefully review your immigration history and advise you about your legal options. He or she can also help you prepare the forms necessary to renew your permanent resident card. If you encounter difficulties, your immigration lawyer has the skills to address them.

You have worked hard to become a legal permanent resident and do not want a paperwork error to jeopardize your status. Luckily, you do not have to leave your immigration-related matter to chance. Submit a request online or call us today at (866) 345-6784 to get in touch with an experienced lawyer in your area!

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