How to renew the residence card?

In my Consulta Migratoria® column, I answer the question of a reader who wants to know how to renew her U.S. green card.

Each case is different and the answers vary depending on the immigration history of each person. Here I provide general answers to your questions. Please consult with an immigration attorney to receive personalized legal advice before beginning any process.

This is the column:

My green card expires on August 3, 2014. At this time my family and I are going through economic hardship and I have no way to renew it. Can I keep my expired card until I can renew it or can I become a citizen? In case of emergency, how could I obtain a permit to travel to El Salvador? I have my elderly mother living in El Salvador and I am concerned about her health, what should I do in case I have to travel with my expired green card? Please advise me about my case. -Maria F.

Maria, I recommend that you immediately apply to renew your green card and request a fee waiver from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

The renewal of the residence card is requested by means of the Form I-90. The renewal process can be done by mail or by online under certain circumstances.

The processing fee is $450. Due to your financial hardship, you may be able to request a fee waiver by using the Form I-912. You can find more information about the process of requesting a fee waiver by clicking here.

If you decide to apply for a fee waiver, you must mail your applications to the USCIS. You should keep copies of all documents you send to the USCIS.

If you have to make an emergency trip to El Salvador while you are waiting for your new permanent residency card, you should visit the local USCIS office to ask for permission to leave the country. USCIS will need to see your valid passport, expired green card, and the receipt from USCIS confirming that you have already applied for a renewal of your green card.

If you have been arrested or found guilty of any crime in the past, you should consult with an immigration attorney before applying to renew your green card.

Also, you should not leave the U.S. until the immigration attorney says you can.

I remind you that notaries, immigration consultants, paper fillers and multi-services are not authorized to give you legal advice.

For more information and immigration tips, read my blog

Send your questions to Include detailed information about your situation to better answer your questions.

Nelson A. Castillo, Esq. is an immigration attorney and author of La Tarjeta Verde: Cómo Obtener la Residencia Permanente en los Estados Unidos (Green Card: How to Obtain Permanent Residence in the United States). He is a past President of the Hispanic National Bar Association and current President of the Los Angeles Westlake South Neighborhood Council. To contact Mr. Castillo's office, please call (213) 537-VISA (8472).