The Quest To Renew My Green Card

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Well, after ten years, my Green Card was going to expire in September. So, having the need to go on a cruise out of Florida in October, about 4 weeks ago I thought it prudent to start the process. Having a Permanent Resident status means that technically, I am a resident of the US for life, however they run for ten years and if you left the country it could cause a delay when you try to get back in (at immigration) if the date on the card had expired.

So I googled for the US official site to do it online. After filtering out the other sites that had sprung up offering to help you fill out the form online for a fee, I opened up an account with the official one and pulled up the form.

First annoying thing, the site would log you out after 20 minutes. Then when you logged back in it would send you a temporary secondary password to allow you get back in to your form. Fortunately you could at least save your progress on the form. The form itself was probably a ten minute job to fill out if you knew all the right answers. Unfortunately I found some cryptic ones and spent several hours googling just a few questions to get the answers right first time.

Without going into detail I finally realized the form was generic, catering for people who were here applying for their card the first time. as well as renewing it after ten years. This made all the difference and the few questions I procrastinated over answering were a lot easier to put in the correct response.

After doing that I uploaded a scan of my Drivers License and paid the $450.00 fee for the processing and demographics that would need to be done again (fingerprinting and new photo)

About a week later I got a receipt for my payment and a week after that I got an appointment two weeks hence, up in central Houston.

I had the address, a Garmin Sat Nav device and a friend who knew Houston well to drive me up there. Well, you would think it would be clearly signposted at the side of the road or plastered on a big building. Nope, we passed where it should have been twice before finally asking at a bank. Oh, they said it 's in a row of shops set back a little from the road. A row of shops? Sure enough it was next to a furniture store. Walked in, the place was empty of people waiting, most suprised. a happy smiling face (unstressed) said, hi, can I help you, laughed and joked with us and got me to fill out a further brief form, even helped me with it, the seating for 90 people remained empty.

So, within a few minutes I was handed over to a much more sombre assistant who got hold of my hands and proceeded to fingerprint them multipule times on his scanner. Then he took a photo and put a sticker on my existing card which said it was extended for 9 months. When will I get my new one I asked. Within 9 months he said. Well, the whole thing was over, in and out in seven minutes. Courteous enough staff, fast and efficent

However, during the time I was being done, the lady from the desk was doing another guy opposite me. He said, why are you so quiet. She said oh, we are having a deliberate lull period. We go back to normal starting next week where we will be processing between 300-350 people a day!

I'm glad I got in when I did!
  • Profile picture of the author rondo
    Wow that's lucky.
    Question for you Ian. How did you get the green card in the first place? I've been looking into it and it looks tough, although there is that lottery I guess.

    Andrew
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    • Profile picture of the author lanfear63
      Originally Posted by rondo View Post

      Wow that's lucky.
      Question for you Ian. How did you get the green card in the first place? I've been looking into it and it looks tough, although there is that lottery I guess.

      Andrew
      Long distance romance and then marriage to a US citizen helped a lot :-)

      If you can find a way to work over here then that's another route to possibly staying a long time. I'm sure others might have some ideas and advice. Living here has it's pro's and cons though and you should check that out as well.
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      • Profile picture of the author David Beroff
        Originally Posted by lanfear63 View Post

        Long distance romance and then marriage to a US citizen helped a lot :-)
        Wait... they require a romance to precede the marriage!?
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        • Profile picture of the author AnniePot
          We (myself, husband and two daughters) renewed our Green Cards just once, then when they was coming up for renewal after 8 years, we thought it prudent to apply instead for citizenship .

          We did everything online for the citizenship application with, as I recall very little hassle, but the Green Card renewal was more or less pre-computerization of everything, so we simply went to the local office in LA and picked up the appropriate forms.

          By doing the citizenship application online we also collectively saved thousands of dollars, had we opted (completely unnecessarily I fee, if you have an ounce of grey matter), for an attorney.

          Throughout both processes, when it came to actually dealing with people, face to face, everyone was courteous and helpful. We made appointments ahead of time and never needed to wait long. When we went for our citizenship interviews, it was more of a friendly chat with the guy than an official questioning. I was called first and when he realized my husband was next on his list, he told me to fetch him as well and he dealt with us together.

          We initially came to the US from England on an H-1B visa applied for for by his employer.

          Incidentally, subsequently my brother married an American and afterwards applied for a Green Card. They live in Northern California and I don't recall him encountering any difficulties.
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  • Profile picture of the author ss2k
    Can't you apply for citizenship after about 4 years?
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  • Profile picture of the author salegurus
    I've been to that exact same office LOL...
    You are correct it is rather well hidden and not the easiest place to find,
    must say when we went it was also empty except for one other person.

    Staff was very helpful and polite which is not always the case when
    you deal with Gov employees...
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