Cite as "AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 99112301 (posted Nov. 23, 1999)"
|For Immediate Release:
Contact: Matthew Tallmer
Monday, November 15, 1999
WASHINGTON – Many legal permanent residents need to renew their green cards
in the coming months, but some should proceed carefully to ensure that their
rights are preserved, according to the American Immigration Lawyers Association
“If people do not renew their green cards, they might have difficulty proving
eligibility to work, to travel abroad, and to prove their status if picked up by
the INS or other law enforcement agencies,” said Jeanne Butterfield, AILA’s
However, the INS renewal process does not address several potential problems
for immigrants. Under the 1996 immigration laws, INS inspectors can order an
immigrant detained or immediately deported if they doubt the validity of the
immigrant’s travel documents, or if they believe that a lengthy absences from
the U.S. amounted to an abandonment of permanent residence. Also, the 1996
immigration laws redefine, and retroactively apply those definitions, to the
offenses for which immigrants may be deported.
“Thus, anyone with an arrest record – including arrests for what seemed minor
offenses at the time, and anyone who has spent significant time outside the U.S.
since obtaining permanent residence – should seek legal counsel before applying
for a new green card,” Butterfield said.
Another concern is that the green card renewals could further increase the
already tremendous backlogs in naturalization petitions and family unity
adjudications. “We consider it a potential major problem. For the past few
years, the backlogs in the numbers of people seeking to become naturalized or
reunited with their family members have increased dramatically. Now the agency
needs to not only reduce these backlogs, but also process 660,000 green card
renewals. Something has got to give. AILA is concerned about the INS’ ability to
issue new green cards, while still continuing to process other applications in
the pipeline,” Butterfield said.
In late 1989, the INS issued green cards that expired after ten years, with
the result that 660,000 lawful permanent residents now need to renew their cards
within the next 12-14 months. Only the card is expiring: the permanent
resident’s status does not expire. In order to avoid problems when travelling or
seeking employment, it is important that those with expiring cards apply to the
INS to renew their green card. While the new card is being printed, INS either
will issue a temporary photo document, or put a stamp in the resident’s
passport. A page on the INS’ Web site outlines the renewal procedures (http://www.uscis.gov/).