• 24 September 2018

Yes, it is possible for your Green Card to expire before your request to become a naturalized U.S. citizen has received final approval. That’s not what you may want to hear, but it an unfortunate situation that has become more and more common.

It just doesn’t seem right. But, neither does the increasing number of people who accidentally drop their cell phones in a toilet.

Surprisingly the two problems share enough similarities that they are worthy of at least a cursory comparison.

  • Both situations happen accidentally.
  • Both situations create a lot of anxiety.
  • Neither situation is “the end of the world,” although they may feel like it.
  • Only one of the situations can be completely avoided. (Don’t take your cell phone into a bathroom!)

USCIS instructions for Green Card holders

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) instructions direct Green Card holders who wish to apply for U.S. Citizenship to do so “90 calendar days before you complete your permanent residence requirement.”

The problem isn’t you. It is the system. Ninety days may no longer be an adequate length of time to process your application for citizenship – even if you have been careful to follow instructions completely.

U.S. citizenship application backlog

For whatever reasons, the system has been unable to keep pace with the number of applications received.

  • In fiscal year 2010, some 710,544 applications for citizenship were received.
  • In fiscal year 2017, that number rose to 986,790. That’s an increase of 38.8%
  • In fiscal year 2010, some 676,054 applications were processed, leaving a backlog of 291,833 yet to be completed
  • In fiscal year 2017, that number rose to 799,483 an increase, but an increase of only 18.3% less than half the increase in applications.
  • As a result, there have been increasing backlogs at the end of every fiscal year since 2010 with the exception of 2013 and 2015.
  • The backlog alone at the end of Q2 2018 now stands at 753,325, 258% more than the backlog of 291,833 in fiscal 2010.

The bottom line is that, even though the USCIS has expanded several of its offices to help improve the process flow, the department currently cannot keep pace.

We cannot predict what the future will hold. However, if you are concerned that your Green Card may expire before your application for citizenship is approved, we may be able to help to eliminate your anxiety and even help move your application along more expeditiously.

Our ACS Immigration Attorneys have over 100 years of combined experience and expertise. We are available to review your personal situation, advise you on the best and right way to resolve your status, and guide you throughout the entire process to make your future in America secure.