Anwar writes, "My green card is set to expire in a few weeks and rather than renewing, I have decided to apply for naturalization. It has been a difficult decision for me because I have to surrender the citizenship of a country that I was born in. I think it is best for me that I become an American so that I can vote in elections and make my ties with the United States truly permanent. I am wondering if I should still renew my green card and spend hundreds of dollars when I might become a citizen in a matter of months. I have no plans to travel and since I own a business, I have no intention of taking a job. Please help."
It is mandatory for an alien to have a valid GC at all times. It is evidence of your legal status in the United States and should be shown to a law enforcement agent when ordered to do so. Without a valid alien registration card, not only you are out of status, but if you fail to renew, it can be safely assumed that you have no interest in continuing your permanent resident status. Also, imagine having to take an overseas trip in an emergency? Your naturalization may not happen for almost a year or even longer if there is a problem so it will be nice to have a valid GC to also show as evidence that you are eligible to work and live legally in the United States. In any case, you will need the GC or a copy of your I-90 acknowledgement at the time of interview, and definitely a physical card to surrender at the time of taking oath.
If you apply for citizenship and decide not to renew your green card, the interviewing officer may refuse to approve your case till you have a valid green card. Generally speaking, you are not entitled to a generous treatment because you have less than six months left on your card (in which case you are entitled to a free I-551 extension that allows you to save some money and be able to travel out of the country and change jobs) but you could take the risk if you are really tight with money or do not mind your interview and oath jeopardized. The best course of action, however, is to apply for renewal right away and hope that by the time your interview happens, you will have a valid GC.