On December 12, 2022, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating their Policy Manual to allow for extending the validity of Permanent Resident Cards or Green Cards for naturalization applicants who experience longer processing times. The receipt notice can be presented with the expired Green Card as evidence of continued legal status and eligibility to work within a 24-month period. Prior to this change, applicants needed to file Form I-90 if they did not apply for naturalization at least six months before their Green Card expiration date. This form, known as an Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card (Green Card), serves as proof of one’s lawful permanent residence (LPR).
This update is expected to help naturalization applicants who experience longer processing times, because they will receive an extension of lawful permanent resident (LPR) status and may not need to file Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card (Green Card). LPRs who properly file Form N-400 (Application for Naturalization), may receive this extension without regard to whether they filed Form I-90.
What is Form N-400?
Form N-400 is an application form used by applicants who wish to become citizens of the United States. The form collects information about the applicant’s background, residence and other eligibility requirements that must be satisfied in order to be eligible for naturalization. The form also requests details about the applicant’s criminal history, military service and taxes, as well as information regarding their physical presence in the U.S., mistakes they may have made while applying, and any other issues relevant to the application process. After submitting Form N-400, applicants must attend a biometrics appointment, naturalization interview and take an English language civics test before being granted citizenship.
In all cases of civics test the applicant must demonstrate the ability to speak English at the time of the naturalization examination, unless the applicant meets one of the age and time as resident exemptions of English or qualifies for a medical waiver.
Form N-400 Updated Language
USCIS will update the language on Form N-400 receipt notices to extend Green Cards for up to 24 months for these applicants. The receipt notice can be presented with the expired Green Card as evidence of continued status as well as identity and employment authorization under List A of Employment Eligibility Verification (Form I-9), if presented before the expiration of the 24-month extension period provided in the notice.
Prior to this change, under USCIS policy, naturalization applicants who did not apply for naturalization at least six months before their Green Card expiration date needed to file Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card (Green Card), to maintain proper documentation of their lawful status. Applicants who applied for naturalization at least six months prior to their Green Card expiration were eligible to receive an Alien Documentation, Identification, and Telecommunications (ADIT) stamp in their passport, which served as temporary evidence of their LPR status. This policy was based on the processing goal of 180 days or six months for Form N-400s, which would make filing Form I-90 unnecessary for applicants who filed at least six months before their Green Card expiration date. This policy update recognizes USCIS’ current processing times, while improving flexibility and efficiency by reducing the number of ADIT stamp appointments in field offices and the number of Form I-90s filed, which allows for these resources to be focused on other immigration benefit adjudications.
The extension will apply to all applicants who file Form N-400 on or after Dec. 12, 2022. LPRs who filed for naturalization prior to Dec. 12 will not receive a Form N-400 receipt notice with the extension. If their Green Card expires, they generally must still file Form I-90 or receive an ADIT stamp in their passport, in order to maintain valid evidence of their lawful permanent resident status. Lawful permanent residents who lose their Green Card 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 because noncitizens must carry within their personal possession proof of registration, such as the Green Card and any evidence of extensions or may be subject to criminal prosecution under INA 264(e). Applicants who require an ADIT stamp may request an appointment at a USCIS Field Office by contacting the USCIS Contact Center.
In addition, USCIS was also issuing Alien Documentation, Identification, and Telecommunications (ADIT) stamps as temporary evidence of LPR status for those who applied for naturalization at least six months prior to their Green Card expiration date. Such stamps were placed in passports but have now been replaced by the automatic extension under this updated policy which USCIS believes will reduce the number of ADIT stamping appointments in field offices and Form I-90s filed while continuing to provide efficient immigration benefits adjudication. The extension will only apply to those who applied after Dec. 12th; anyone prior must seek other solutions such as filing Form I-90 or receiving an ADIT stamp in their passport for valid evidence of LPR status. Failure to do so may result in criminal prosecution under INA 264(e).
What Is An INA 264(e)?
INA 2634(e) is a section of the Immigration and Nationality Act that establishes criminal penalties for certain violations of immigration law. Specifically, this section states that anyone who attempts to procure or assist in procuring an LPR status through fraud or willful misrepresentation of material facts is subject to various penalties including fines and imprisonment.
Reducing the number of ADIT stamping appointments and Form I-90s filed helps USCIS focus more resources on other immigration benefit adjudications. In addition, this updated policy provides more flexibility and efficiency to naturalization applicants since they no longer have to file Form I-90 or receive an ADIT stamp in their passport for valid evidence of LPR status. This update recognizes USCIS’ current processing times while providing applicants with complete assurance that they will maintain their lawful permanent resident (LPR) status without needing to take additional action if their application takes longer than expected to process.
This update serves as a reminder that it is important for those applying for U.S. citizenship or naturalization stay informed on current immigration policies and adhere to all requirements outlined by USCIS when filing applications and paperwork associated with their immigration process.