Do I Need to Carry My Green Card at All Times?

Originally known as the Alien Registration Receipt Card, a Green Card is issued to non-citizens who qualify as Lawful Permanent Residents in the United States. The cards were first introduced as part of the Alien Registration Act of 1940, also known as the Smith Act.

Regulation to Carry Green Card

According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), any permanent resident who is 18 or older must carry a valid green card with them at all times. It must be the actual green card as a photocopy is not acceptable. Failure to carry a green card as required can result in conviction of a misdemeanor, a $100 fine and up to 30 days in jail.

Before Receiving Green Card

An immigrant who has not yet received a green card should carry their passport with the “I-551 stamp” that proves they hold permanent resident status. If someone’s green card is lost or stolen, they may carry the I-797 Notice of Action they receive when they file their application to replace the card.

History of the Green Card

The Smith Act was passed in 1940 but the use of green cards did not begin until after World War II. During the 1950s, there was a belief that non-citizens should be able to prove they had legal authorization to remain in the United States. Green cards represented security to those who held it, indicating they had a right to live and work in the United States. The official name of the card was long so people began referring to it by its color.

Any permanent resident who is over the age of 18 is required to carry a valid green card with them at all times in order to avoid fines and possible jail time. If you need more information on immigration laws and regulations, contact us today.