On April 19, 2017, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a news release titled “USCIS Will Issue Redesigned Green Cards and Employment Authorization Documents” [PDF version].
In the news release, the USCIS announced a redesign to the Form I-551, Permanent Resident Card (commonly known as the “Green Card”). The USCIS also announced that it will begin issuing a redesigned Employment Authorization Document (EAD). The redesigned Green Cards and EADs, which were created as part of the Next Generation Secure Identification Document Project, will be issued beginning on May 1, 2017.
The USCIS explained that the redesigns are part of the USCIS's efforts to take “a proactive approach against the threat of document tampering and fraud.” Furthermore, it is part of an ongoing collaborative effort between the USCIS, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) “to enhance document security and deter counterfeiting and fraud.”
In this article, we will explain the features of the redesigned Green Cards and EADs, and what their adoption will entail for permanent residents and EAD-holders going forward.
According to the USCIS news release, the new Green Cards and EADs will:
- Display the holder's photos on both sides;
- Show a unique graphic and color palette;
- Have embedded holographic images; and
- No longer display the individual's signature.
Regarding the “unique graphic and color palette,” the USCIS explained that Green Cards will have an image of the Statue of Liberty and a predominantly green palette, while EAD cards will have an image of a bald eagle and a predominately red palette.
Finally, Green Cards will no longer have an optical stripe on the back.
Despite the redesigned Green Cards and EADs taking effect on May 1, 2017, the USCIS cautioned that some Green Cards and EADs may display the existing design format. This is because the “USCIS will continue using existing card stock until current supplies are depleted.”
Both existing Green Cards and EADs and their redesigned versions will be valid until the expiration date shown on the card. In limited cases for Temporary Protected Status (TPS)-related EADs and in other designated categories, an EAD may be automatically extended beyond the expiration date indicated on the card. Whether an extension applies regarding a TPS-related EAD depends on the TPS category. For guidance on extensions in other cases, please see our article on the recent Amendments to the American Competitiveness in the 21st Century Act (AC21) regarding automatic EAD extensions [see article].
Both the current and redesigned versions of Green Cards and EADs are acceptable for all normal purposes, including for:
- Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification;
- E-Verify; and
- Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE).
The USCIS noted that some older Green Cards do not have expiration dates. These Green Cards remain valid. However, the USCIS advised individuals with older Green Cards that do not have expiration dates to consider applying for a replacement Green Card with an expiration date. The USCIS explained that the newer Green Cards are less susceptible to fraud or tampering if lost or stolen.
The USCIS's redesigned Green Cards and EADs are intended to be less prone to document tampering or fraud than the current versions. It is important to note that the redesigned Green Cards and EADs do not render current versions invalid provided that they are unexpired (or in the case of certain EADs, automatically extended). If a Green Card-holder or EAD beneficiary has any questions regarding the validity of his or her Green Card or EAD, or his or her continuing eligibility for an immigration benefit, the individual may opt to consult with an experienced immigration attorney for further guidance.