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USCIS Updates Policy to Automatically Extend Green Card Validity to 24 Months for Naturalization Applicants

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Our Analysis: USCIS has announced that starting on December 12, 2022, it is updating its USCIS Policy Manual to allow USCIS to automatically extend the validity of Permanent Resident Cards (‘Green Cards’) for lawful permanent residents who have applied for naturalization to become U.S. citizens.

Specifically, USCIS will update the language on the Form N-400 receipt notices to extend ‘Green Card’ validity for up to twenty-four (24) months for those naturalization applications who experience longer processing times, because they will now receive an extension of LPR status regardless of whether they have also filed the Form I-90 to renew their Green Cards that happen to be expiring. 

With the new receipt notices, the naturalization applicant can present their expired Green Card as evidence of continued status as well as identity and employment authorization (for I-9 employment eligibility verification purpose), if the applicant presents them to the employer before the 24-month extension period expires.

Prior to the policy change, naturalization applicants who did not apply for naturalization at least six (6) months before their Green Card expiration date needed to file the Form I-90 in order to maintain proper documentation of their lawful status. Applicants who applied for naturalization at least six (6) months before their Green Card expiration date were eligible to receive an Alien Documentation, Identification, and Telecommunications (ADIT) stamp in their passport, which works as temporary proof and evidence of their LPR status. 

The original intention of this policy was based on the USCIS’s earlier processing goal of 180 days or six (6) months for Form N-400s, which would make filing Form I-90 unnecessary for those applicants who filed at least six (6) months before their Green Card expiration date. However, with processing delays currently being experienced at USCIS, but also helping to improve flexibility and efficiency by reducing the need for ADIT stamp appointments in local USCIS field offices, not to mention the large number of Form I-90 applications filed with USCIS, now the USCIS’s resources can be better spent to focus on adjudicating other types of immigration benefit applications.

Please do note that this policy change applies to N-400 applicants who file N-400 on or after December 12, 2022. Those LPRs who filed their N-400 applications prior to December 12, 2022 will not get a revised N-400 receipt notice with the new extension language. If their Green Cards do expire, they usually have to file for Form I-90, or get the ADIT stamp in their passport, in order to maintain valid experience of LPR status. 

Furthermore, LPRs who lose their Green Cards usually must still file the Form I-90, even if they already applied for naturalization and received automatic extension receipt notice. The reason is non-citizens are required to carry their GCs and any evidence of extensions or they may be subject to criminal prosecution. Applicants who need the ADIT stamp must still schedule appointment at local USCIS field office via USCIS Contact Center.

The hope is that this latest USCIS announcement will also lessen the stress and anxiety affecting thousands who are still waiting for their N-400 naturalization applications to be adjudicated by the USCIS and whose Green Cards are soon expiring.

Due to the ever changing immigration law landscape, we encourage readers to check back with our site to see any recent updates concerning immigration and related news.  Should readers wish to discuss their matters in more detail, we suggest you contact our office to schedule formal appointment as well.

Pasricha & Patel’s Immigration Department has extensive experience in handling immigration matters. Their team is happy to speak with you on your specific issue.