Green Card goes green!




THE U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has unveiled a new and greater security enhanced green card that will actually be shaded green. (The ones currently in use are actually pink in color).

The announcement was made last week by the agency, which has already begun issuing the new green cards to permanent resident applicants who have met all the requirements.

"Redesigning the Green Card is a major achievement for USCIS," said USCIS director Alejandro Mayorkas. "The new security technology makes a critical contribution to the integrity of the immigration system."

According to the agency, the new card’s security features are aimed to prevent fraud and tampering, while facilitating quick and accurate authentication.

“Secure optical media will store biometrics for rapid and reliable identification of the card holder. Holographic images, laser engraved fingerprints, and high resolution micro-images will make the card nearly impossible to reproduce,” says USCIS.

“Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) capability will allow Customs and Border Protection officers at ports of entry to read the card from a distance and compare it immediately to file data. Finally, a preprinted return address will enable the easy return of a lost card to USCIS.”

What will happen to all the older model green cards now in circulation? They’ll all be replaced, eventually.

Green cards expire every 10 years and have to be renewed at that time (of course, the holder also has the option of applying for U.S. citizenship instead.) And that’s how the USCIS will phase in its new green card for those who already own one, instead of requiring holders to immediately replace their cards with the updated models.

Then there are those out there who own green cards that do not have an expiration date. Those cards were issued between the years 1977 and 1989 and did not come with a 10-year expiration date.

USCIS had at one point planned on implementing a mandatory replacement of those old, fraud-prone cards, but that initiative never came to pass and the cards are still valid proof of legal residence.

But they are certainly showing their age at this point, and employers especially might not accept them as valid. Travel abroad could also prove more time consuming while the green card is checked for its authenticity.

Therefore, it would be a good idea for those card holders to replace them with the new model. The process for doing so is relatively simple. Holders can download and file the required I-90 paperwork online at www.uscis.gov.

The cost of filing is $370. The paperwork can be filed online at the website, or else mailed in accordance with the attached instructions.

Several weeks after filing, the applicant will receive an appointment letter in the mail for fingerprints and photos at a USCIS application support center located nearest to where the applicant lives. Also at this time, the applicant will receive a stamp that extends the validity of the expiring green card while the new one is being processed. It will take several weeks (months) for the new one to arrive in the mail.

Visit the USCIS website for more information, including a step-by-step guide on applying for naturalization for those who have held their green cards for at least five years, and are thinking about upgrading to citizenship.

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