On December 12, 2022, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it would automatically extend the validity of permanent resident cards (green cards) for lawful permanent residents (LPRs) who have applied for naturalization, i.e., citizenship. Procedurally, this will be implemented by adding a green card extension to the Form N-400 (Application for Naturalization) receipt. This change will serve as much-needed help for naturalization applicants due to longer processing times and may, in certain cases, eliminate the need to file Form I-90 (Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card), saving both time and money. Previously, naturalization applicants who failed to apply for naturalization at least six months before their green cards expired had to file a Form I-90 renewal application. While well-intentioned at the time, this policy was based on USCIS’s stated goal of processing naturalization applications in less than 180 days. Currently, USCIS is taking more than twelve months to process naturalization applications.
This new extension policy applies to all naturalization applicants who file the Form N-400 on or after December 12, 2022. The N-400 receipt notice will provide an automatic twenty-four–month extension of the validity of the green card.
LPRs who filed for naturalization prior to December 12, 2022, will not receive Form N-400 receipt notices with the extension. If their green cards expire, they generally must still file Form I-90 or go through the arduous process of securing an Alien Documentation, Identification and Telecommunication (ADIT) stamp in their passports from USCIS, in order to maintain valid evidence of their lawful permanent resident status. (Applicants who require an ADIT stamp may request an appointment at a USCIS field office by contacting the agency.)
LPRs who lose their green cards generally must still file Form I-90, even if they have applied for naturalization and received the automatic extension under this updated policy. This is critical because the law requires all noncitizens to carry proof of their lawful status—such as a green card, I-94 record, passport admission stamp, or approved extensions—with them at all times. Failure to comply with this legal requirement may subject them to criminal prosecution under section 264(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
Ogletree Deakins’ Immigration Practice Group will continue to monitor developments with respect to these and other policy changes and will post updates on the Immigration blog as additional information becomes available. Important information for employers is also available via the firm’s webinar and podcast programs.