Form I-551 Permanent Resident Card

Form I-551 green card

Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) assigns form numbers to various documents. Form I-551 is also an internal identification number given to one of the special immigration documents.

This is the form number for a green card. It is proof that a foreign national is given the status of permanent resident in the United States.

US immigrant service began issuing these green cards in 1989 with 10 years expiration date for document security and keeping tabs on immigrants. Once the person reaches the expiry date, US law requires you to apply for renewal of a green card. 

However, Form I-551’s number is not only limited to a green card. You may see this number printed on documents such as temporary proof of permanent residency, a new immigrant visa, or on a passport of an immigrant who has lost a green card. If you are still unclear about Form I-551, continue reading to know more.

What is Form I-551?

Form I-551 is a document that enables you to immigrate with permanent resident status to the United States. It allows you to stay in the US for longer periods of time. Typically, it is valid for 10 years, after which you need to renew it.

The document used to be in green color and was referred to as a green card. The basics of the document remained the same, but the legal name changed to a new name: Form I-551

Along with the status of permanent resident, you also get employment authorization to work in the US. You can see Form I-551 printed in the upper left corner of the backside of the green card.

green card back sample

Temporary Form I-551

An immigrant has to maintain permanent resident status through a valid green card (Form I-551). If the card expires or gets lost, you need to renew it. For renewal, you need to file Form I-90, which might take a longer time. If you fail to renew your green card in time, it would be difficult for you to work, travel or prove your residency. 

Therefore, we recommend you plan renewal at least 6 months before your card expires to avoid issues. However, until you renew your green card, a temporary Form I-551 stamp comes into play.

A temporary evidence stamp on Form I-551 is issued in two scenarios:

Permanent residents who have a pending renewal application

If your card was stolen, lost, or destroyed, you need card renewal. The process can take up to 6 months. Therefore, the 551 stamps are used as temporary evidence of the status of a permanent resident.

Newly arrived immigrants 

The immigrant who arrives in the US for the first time can also be issued a temporary evidence stamp, also known as a machine-readable immigrant visa (MRIV).

It is administered by Custom and Border Protection (CBP) on the passport that indicates that you entered the US as a permanent resident. This status lasts for 1 year from the day you enter the US.

Validity of I-551 Temporary Stamp

Validity of the temporary evidence stamp lasts from six months to 1 year. The validity period depends upon the individual situation of the applicants.

For example, if your passport expires in 4 months, the validity of the temporary stamp will be no more than 4 months.

Form I-551 Application 

To get the green card, you need to follow the given steps:

  1. Fill Form I-551 and submit your application to USCIS. Wait until they send you a receipt of application approval. They may ask for additional documents depending upon the nature of your case.
  2. Afterward, USCIS will call you for an interview and screening. When your application is finally approved, they will assign you an immigrant visa number which you can see on your green card.
  3. As a result, those in the US will get status of adjustment while those who are abroad will have to follow US consulate embassy rules.