Reminders for the New Year: Part 3 of 4

This is the third in our series of articles reminding readers of immigration items of which they should be mindful for the 2013 New Year. Part 1 reminded readers of I-94 issues and Part 2 of expiration dates and travel documents. Here, readers are reminded to check expiration dates related to certain immigration documents. Suggestions follow to help avoid problems resulting from expirations in connection with employment authorization documents (EADs) and permanent resident cards (green cards).

Expiration Dates of EADs

Those with pending adjustment of status (I-485) applications should check the expiration dates of their EADs. EADs may be requested in connection with the I-485 filing. EADs are issued with validity periods of either one-year or two-year increments by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If the applicant requests both the EAD and the advance parole (AP) document at the same time, the USCIS usually issues a single card, which is both an EAD and an AP. It should be noted that, while the EAD and AP approval can be issued as a single, combination card, there are still two separate application forms involved in the request for an EAD and AP. The EAD is requested by filing an I-765 form both for initial filings and any extension requests. The AP is requested through the filing of an I-131, both initially and for any requested extension.

It is important to remember that the authorization to work is limited to the validity dates listed on the EAD. Working without authorization, even for those with pending I-485s, can have serious consequences, including potential denial of the I-485 application. In order to avoid any gaps in work authorization, it is best to file the EAD renewal at least 90 days in advance of the current EAD expiration date. Filings are permitted up to 120 days in advance. While most EADs are processed within a 90-day timeframe, delays occur on occasion. Additionally, since EADs are sometimes processed in fewer than 90 days, applicants tend to become lax about filing as early as possible. The simple and obvious solution is to file the EAD as far in advance as permitted – namely 120 days before its expiration date. This avoids a gap in employment; or worse, loss of one’s job or immigration sponsorship.

Issues for Conditional Permanent Residents

Individuals who are conditional permanent residents need to pay careful attention to their status expiration dates. Conditional permanent residence is granted in green card cases based on marriage, when the marriage is less than two years in duration at the time the green card case is approved. (Individuals who receive a green card based on investment in the United States also initially receive conditional status.)

Conditional permanent residence status is granted for a two-year period. This date should be clearly indicated on the green card. Toward the end of the two-year period of marriage-based conditional residence, the immigrant must file another application (Form I-751) to “remove the conditions” on the status. Failure to file the second application by the expiration date will result in loss of status and may even result in being placed in removal (deportation) proceedings. It is sometimes possible to remove the conditions even if the deadline has been missed, but this is never guaranteed. Therefore, this deadline should be taken seriously.

File the I-751 to Remove Conditional Status

A frequent mistake made by individuals with conditional permanent residence is filing the incorrect form at the end of the two-year period. Some immigrants file the application to replace the permanent resident card (I-90), thinking that this is the correct form. The I-90 is NOT the correct form to file in this situation. Unfortunately, the USCIS may accept the I-90 for filing, not notifying the individual of the mistake until months later, after the conditional status has already expired. Individuals with conditional permanent residence based on marriage need to file the I-751 form and establish the bona fide nature of the marriage. Those who received conditional permanent residence as investors need to file the I-829 and demonstrate that they have met the legal requirements.

Check the Expiration Date on Your Green Card (I-551)

Since 1989, the (permanent) green card has carried a ten-year expiration date. However, this does not mean that the permanent residency status expires after ten years. In this case, the expiration date ONLY applies to the document itself. Therefore, neglecting to renew the non-conditional green card document prior to its expiration does not mean that the individual is no longer a permanent resident.

The expiration date should not be ignored, however. Permanent residents are required to have valid evidence of their status. Permanent residents need valid green cards in order to establish their work authorization, and to provide their employers with the proper documentation to permit employment in the United States. Valid, unexpired green cards are also necessary to present at the port of entry in order to facilitate reentry to the United States after travel abroad. For all of these reasons, it is advisable to keep track of green card expiration dates, and file form I-90 to renew the card if it has already expired or if it will expire within six months.

Separately, it is necessary to file the I-90 form for children who obtained their green cards prior to age 14. Even if the expiration date is more than six months in the future, it is necessary for these young permanent residents to follow the I-90 registration procedure outlined in the instructions to that form.

Check Passport Expiration Dates

Each country has laws controlling the issuance and validity of passports. It is important to note one’s passport expiration date. The issuing country of a passport governs the procedures for its renewal. Renewals should be requested sufficiently in advance of expiration dates to avoid potential problems with immigration or travel.


Our recommendation for the New Year is to check all documents related to your immigration process and the expiration dates. If needed, one should develop a calendaring system to track multiple expiration dates for oneself and family, and a reminder method for the filing of immigration renewals and extensions. Tracking these dates and avoiding missed deadlines, or nearly missed deadlines, will help to keep stress to a minimum, making the 2013 New Year a happier one for you and your family.

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Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.