Your valid permanent resident card, or green card, proves that you are in the U.S. lawfully and indicates that you have certain rights. For example, the Department of Homeland Security explains that a green card shows that you have the right to live in the U.S. permanently and work, own real estate, join the military and receive financial aid for education here.
So, how can you keep your card safe?
According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, a permanent resident card is not valid if the expiration date has passed. Some old cards do not have an expiration date printed on them, but if it has been that long since you applied for a new one, the card is likely expired. Even without a printed expiration date as proof, a card expires after 10 years. You need to update your card if any of your information, such as your address, has changed, or if you became a lawful permanent resident before your 14th birthday, and you are now 14 or older.
You can renew the card when the expiration date falls in the next six months. Conditional residents with a two-year green card may petition to have the conditions removed 90 days before the expiration date to obtain a regular 10-year card.
You do not want to be without your card, as you may not be able to prove you are in the country legally without it. If someone stole it or you lost or damaged your card, do not delay in filing.
The applications for renewing, replacing and removing conditions from your card are all available through the USCIS. Extra documentation and/or steps may apply for removing conditions or for replacing an expired card.