No, you do not become illegal once your card expires. You will remain a lawful permanent resident. That status can only be take from you through an order of removal, voluntary relinquishment, abandonment, or naturalization.
You simply won't have proof of your status.
Take me, for example. I'm a native born U.S. citizen. I have a birth certificate to prove it. If I lose my birth certificate, I don't lose my status, I just don't have a convenient way of showing it.
Same with you, right now. You're a green card holder with an expired green card. Your card expired, but your status didn't.
The date on the green card is just the date that the card itself expires. Your status as a permanent residnet does not end, you just can't rely on the old card for travel etc. This does not put your citizenship application in danger.
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The expiration of the card has no effect on your status.
J Charles Ferrari Eng & Nishimura 213.622.2255 The statement above is general in nature and does not constitute legal advice, as not all the facts are known. You should retain an attorney to review all the facts specific to your case in order to receive advise specific to your case. The statement above does not create an attorney/client relationship. Answers on Avvo can only be general ones, as specific answers would require knowledge of all the facts. As such, they may or may not apply to the question.
Your card expired, not your status. Of course if you need to travel, get a new driver's license, or obtain employment, they will not accept an expired card as proof of your status.