Today, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced a policy change to benefit lawful permanent residents (LPRs) who will be applying for U.S. citizenship with expired or nearly expired residency cards. LPRs are issued permanent resident cards (commonly referred to as “green cards”) as evidence of their status in the United States. Nearly all LPRs are given cards that are valid for ten years. To renew a ten-year green card, a resident generally has to file Form I-90. The process can be costly and lengthy – Currently, USCIS charges a $540 filing fee to process most I-90 applications, and many LPRs have experienced processing times of one-to-two years between when their application is filed and when their new card is issued.
An eligible LPR who has applied for naturalization does not become a U.S. citizen until they are approved and sworn in – a process that might take months (or, in rare cases or a pandemic, years) from when the person submits their naturalization application.
While awaiting decisions on their naturalization cases, LPRs still need proof of their status in the United States. If an LPR applies for naturalization when their ten-year green card will not be expiring for six months or longer, the USCIS policy has been to allow for the LPR to be given an “ADIT” (Alien Documentation, Identification and Telecommunication) stamp in their passport as temporary proof of residency status. However, previously, if an LPR applied for naturalization with an already expired green card, or one that was within six months of its expiration date, that LPR would not be issued an ADIT stamp. That LPR would be forced to pay the fees for the I-90 in order to obtain proof of their LPR status while awaiting their naturalization decision.
Today, USCIS has announced a new policy to limit the need for LPRs to submit I-90s while awaiting naturalization decisions. Effective December 12, 2022, when an LPR applies for naturalization, USCIS will issue receipts that include automatic 24-month extensions. These notices, coupled with the LPR’s physical expired or expiring ten-year green card, will extend the validity of the green cards for 24 months from the date of the green card’s expiration. Hopefully this policy will help alleviate some of the expense of filing for citizenship on those residents, and likewise to assist USCIS in processing I-90s more quickly for the many residents who have not yet decided to apply for citizenship and are awaiting their new green cards.
If you have questions about a potential naturalization or green card renewal case, please contact our office at 312-427-6163.
The material contained in this alert does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only. An attorney-client relationship is not presumed or intended by receipt or review of this presentation. The information provided should never replace informed counsel when specific immigration-related guidance is needed.
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