Temporary Evidence Stamp Option for Delayed I-90 Filings

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has issued suggestions for those permanent residents (“green card” holders) who may need to request temporary evidence of status in the form of an I-551 stamp. The need for this stamp is frequently due to the lengthy processing times for the application to replace permanent resident card (form I-90), which is used to renew a green card when the existing card is set to expire. If the new green card is not issued before the expiration date of the existing card, the I-551 stamp can be used as temporary evidence of a person’s status as a lawful permanent resident.

Background on Form I-90

The I-90 is used to request a replacement green card. This need typically arises when a green card is scheduled to expire, but this form can also be used to replace a card in other situations, such as if the card is lost, stolen, or damaged. Generally speaking, a green card is issued with a validity period of ten years. And, while non-conditional permanent resident status does not expire, a valid, unexpired green card is still important. The unexpired card serves as proof of one’s status, authorization to work in the United States, and permission to return to the U.S. following a trip abroad of less than one year. (However, see the two-part MurthyDotCom NewsBrief, Extended Travel by a Permanent Resident for some important caveats to the rules related to green card holders returning to the U.S. following overseas travel.)

Lengthy I-90 Processing Time

The I-90 may be filed to renew a green card as early as six months before the expiration date of the existing card. Unfortunately, the processing time at the USCIS for these applications can be as long as six months, and some cases take even longer. Thus, even if the renewal application is filed on the earliest date allowed, the application may still be pending by the time the existing green card expires. As noted above, an expired green card does not directly impact one’s status as a permanent resident; however, without this document, the individual may run into problems evidencing status as a permanent resident, along with work and travel authorization.

I-551 Stamp as Evidence of Status when I-90 is Delayed

If an I-90 renewal application is pending and the applicant’s green card has expired (or is about to expire), the USCIS can provide a stamp in the passport, which serves as temporary evidence of the individual’s status as a permanent resident. This stamp is known as the I-551 temporary evidence stamp. (The green card is the I-551 card.)

How to Request an I-551 Stamp

In order to request an I-551 stamp, an InfoPass appointment should be scheduled at the local USCIS office. At the appointment, a valid, unexpired passport should be presented, as well as: the appointment notice, the I-90 receipt notice, proof of residence in the local office’s jurisdiction, a copy of the expired green card (if available), and a copy of the biometrics completion notice (if applicable). In some emergency situations, it may be possible to request the I-551 on a walk-in basis. This depends upon local office procedures, and the individual must come prepared to document the nature of the emergency, whether personal or work related.

I-551 Stamp Valid for One Year

The stamp is valid for up to a year and can be used as proof of status just as one would use the plastic green card. There are a number of factors that affect the duration of time for which the stamp is granted. These include whether or not the biometrics are completed, as well as the expiration date of the passport.


Lawful permanent residents should naturally be careful to avoid loss, theft, or damage to an existing green card. But, unfortunate events are sometimes inevitable, and the USCIS has a process to provide a replacement and proof of status. The same process applies to those with expiring green cards, when, depending on processing times, it may be possible to file far enough in advance to avoid the need for the I-551 stamp. Questions about the I-90 or other matters related to the green card may be directed to the Murthy Law Firm for consultation or other assistance.


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Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.