05 Jan 2023 Two-Year Green Card Extension On Filing For Naturalization
USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) recently announced it will no longer be necessary for Lawful Permanent Residents (LPR or green card holders) to replace an expired green card when filing for naturalization. Instead, on filing the Application for Naturalization (Form N-400), the person’s green card will automatically be extended for two years without having to file a Form I-90 (Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card).
This is a welcome change in policy, as it reduces the hassle of having applicants first file to renew a green card and will hopefully cut down on USCIS’s workload by eliminating the need to process unnecessary Form I-90.
By way of background if a person’s green card has expired or was lost, the LPR must ordinarily file a Form I-90. This was also the case for LPRs who were filing for naturalization with either an expired green card or a green card that would expire within six months from the date of filing for naturalization. They would then receive an “Alien Documentation, Identification and Telecommunication” (ADIT) stamp in their passport as proof of LPR status.
However, given the tremendous backlogs and processing times, USCIS has changed its policy. Beginning December 12, 2022, when a person files an application for naturalization (Form N-400), the filing receipt notice will provide an automatic 24-month extension of the green card and will serve as valid, unexpired evidence of LPR status when presented with their expired green card. In other words, there will no longer be a need for LPRs to renew their green cards when filing for naturalization. Instead, they would present the N-400 filing receipt (which states the green card has been extended for 24 months, or two years), along with their expiring green card, which will provide proof that they are in valid LPR status while their naturalization application is pending.
USCIS believes, and rightfully so, that this policy “allows greater flexibility and efficiency by reducing the number of ADIT stamp appointments in field offices, reducing the number of Form I – 90’s filed, and reducing the number of inquiries, which allows for these resources to be focused on other immigration benefit adjudications,” which I think would be reducing the tremendous backlogs in processing and approving petitions and applications.
I would also recommend to all LPRs that if you are eligible for naturalization, you should consider filing rather than remaining an LPR indefinitely. Some of the advantages of being a U.S. citizen include the ability to vote and the ability to remain outside the U.S. indefinitely, which is a big deal, especially during the COVID pandemic with shutdowns, lockdowns, etc., where many LPRs who had gone on vacation just before the pandemic found themselves stuck outside the U.S., unable to return. Because they remained outside the U.S. for over a year, they were considered to have abandoned their green card. In fact, I put out a YouTube video on this precise subject on my YouTube channel, US Immigration TV. If a person is a U.S. citizen, they do not need to worry about abandoning their citizenship. Because unlike an LPR, a citizen can stay outside the U.S. indefinitely.
The other advantage of naturalization is that you cannot be deported or removed if you are a U.S. citizen. I’ve encountered many cases where a person was an LPR for many years and had many opportunities to file for naturalization, but they did not. They may have gotten into a fight or committed some other crime to which they pleaded guilty, and now they are in deportation or removal proceedings. While people should, of course, not commit crimes, whether they are citizens or LPRs, if the person had already been a citizen, they would of course be punished for their crime in criminal court, but they could not be deported.
U.S. citizens can also petition family members such as parents, married children, and brothers and sisters. LPR’s cannot. They can only petition their spouse and unmarried children. There are also situations where a person should NOT naturalize. I’ve also put out a video on my YouTube channel, US Immigration TV, on this very subject, on when not to naturalize. This could include if an LPR had committed certain crimes. In that case, they will be fingerprinted in connection with their naturalization, and the crime will come up, and not only could their naturalization be denied but they could also be placed in removal proceedings.
Another situation where a person may not want to naturalize is if they have a child who may be eligible for benefits under the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA). If the child had qualified for CSPA benefits, and the parent naturalizes AFTER the child’s biological 21st birthday, it could mess up their eligibility under the CSPA.
That is why I would suggest that if you’re eligible to naturalize and/or you have any questions or issues about eligibility, you should consult with an attorney who can evaluate your situation and assist you in filing for naturalization so you can finally get that blue passport.
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