When you vacation abroad, your most crucial document is your passport. Without it, you are in trouble. If you came to live permanently in Los Angeles from overseas, your green card is similar.
You must always carry your green card on you. While this may seem a hassle, it is far more bother to try and convince a police officer you are not undocumented, should they stop you without it.
Like a passport, an expired green card is worthless, so you should keep an eye on the expiration date and leave yourself plenty of time to renew it. You can start your renewal process six months before your card runs out. Some older cards did not have an expiration date. Newer ones do; they are valid for 10 years, except for conditional ones, which only last two years.
Sometimes you need to replace your green card for other reasons:
- You lost it: Whether lost or stolen, you need to apply for a new one. Otherwise, you have no ID.
- You cannot read it: If you cannot read it, a police officer will not be able to either. The law requires you to replace a damaged card.
- You changed your name: Perhaps you got married and took on your spouse’s surname. Or maybe you legally changed your name because you were sick of people in Los Angeles pronouncing it wrong.
- You changed your status: Whether going from a permanent resident to a commuter or gaining permanent resident status, you need to actualize your card.
Keeping your green card up to date is essential. An experienced immigration attorney can help you through the process and ensure you protect your right to remain in the country.