I-551 Temporary Evidence Stamp

A green card, or Form I-551, is the most important status an immigrant achieves before he or she eventually applies for United States citizenship. This means that, until you qualify for naturalization, your green card is an important document. What happens if it expires or is about to expire and you have to travel? We provide details on the I-551 temporary evidence stamp below.

Form I-551 is the official name for the “green card” in the government’s immigration and citizenship system. The validity of Form I-551 is 10 years. It must be renewed if one chooses to remain a permanent resident or obtains U.S citizenship. Certain problematic involving a lost, stolen, or expiring green card can be avoided with a temporary evidence stamp.

The I-551 Temporary Evidence Stamp

An immigrant must maintain their permanent resident status by having a valid green card (Form I-551) at all times. There may be circumstances where a renewal is in order. One is simply because the green card expires after a 10-year period. The need for a temporary evidence stamp on Form I-551 (for your green card) comes into play when you consider the generally lengthy times for an I-90 form filing.

Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card, is used to renew a green card when the existing one is set to expire. This process can take up to 6 months or more. As a result, you may see yourself in a situation where you need proof of your permanent residence status while your actual green card has expired. The I-551 stamp can be used as temporary evidence of a person’s status as a lawful permanent resident. This is important if the new green card is not issued before the expiration date of the existing card.

It is important to note that using the temporary evidence stamp should be a last resort if possible. You should always apply to renew your green card well before the expiration date to best avoid being caught with an expired one. Of course, the USCIS often takes much longer to process documents than expected, so it can be difficult to account for it.

I-551 Temporary Evidence Stamp

When Do You Need It?

A temporary evidence stamp may be needed when a green card is scheduled to expire. The temporary evidence stamp also helps in other situations. You can apply for it if your card is lost, stolen, or damaged. Generally speaking, a green card is issued with a validity of 10 years. While your non-conditional permanent resident status does not expire, it is still important to have a valid unexpired green card.

The reason it is important is because you may need to travel abroad for less than a year and may want to re-enter the country while your card expired in the interim. Your unexpired card serves as proof of a number of important things. These include your status and authorization to work in the United States. It also gives you permission to return to the U.S. following a trip abroad of less than one year.

You need a valid green card or confirmed I-551 temporary evidence status for work authorization and driving licenses as well.

Obtaining the I-551 Temporary Evidence Stamp

If you find yourself with a pending I-90 and need proof of your status, then the local USCIS office responsible for your jurisdiction can issue a temporary I-551 stamp in your passport. Stamps are issued based on the applicant’s unique situation. Generally, though, USCIS-issued I-551 temporary evidence stamps are issued for a period of 6 to 12 months.

You may kick-start this process by obtaining an InfoPass appointment from the USCIS website. If you are short on time and circumstances require a quicker resolution, then the USCIS also caters to walk-in appointments. However, this service varies in terms and procedures from office to office. USCIS will normally issue the I-551 stamp with a validity period of 6 to 12 months. If your passport expires prior to that time, then the stamp will likely reflect the expiration date of the passport itself.

You will also need to have completed your biometrics. This should not be a problem in cases where an I-90 has been pending for a while. This is so because, with an I-90 filing, you would need your biometrics to be completed within the next 30 days. USCIS has the right to further limit the validity of the stamp to a 30 to 60 day period if your biometrics have not yet been captured for the pending I-90.

Documents Required

Take the following documents with you to your appointment with USCIS when you seek an I-551 stamp:

  • Valid passport
  • InfoPass appointment notice (if applicable)
  • Form I-90 receipt notice
  • Proof of residence within the jurisdiction of the USCIS office
  • Copy of expired/lost green card, if available
  • Copy of date-stamped ASC appointment notice showing biometrics capture (if applicable)

Circumstances differ from person to person. You may need a temporary stamp because you need to travel abroad soon or for something like an an emergency or a medical procedure. Bring evidence for all such situations such as a booked flight, a death certificate, a company letter if emergency travel is work related, or a medical letter from your doctor or information on a scheduled procedure.

Temporary Evidence Stamp Cost

While filing an I-90 has a cost associated with it ($455 with a possible $85 biometrics fee), the USCIS I-551 temporary evidence issued-stamp in your passport does not have a fee. This is for both walk-in and appointment services.

How Our Immigration Attorneys Can Help

Immigration law can be complicated and the consequences of mistakes can be devastating. Finding yourself with an expired green card could be extremely problematic for your case if you do not obtain an I-551 temporary evidence stamp. The best way to handle this is to avoid the situation altogether and renew your green card on time. However, if you do find yourself in need of a temporary evidence stamp, hiring an immigration attorney can go a long way in helping you do things the right way.

For a private consultation of your specific case, schedule a session with our team of professional immigration attorneys. We’ll walk you through what you need to know in order to apply for a temporary evidence stamp in a timely manner.