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Important Reminder: Carrying your Green Card

For green card holders, that small, plastic card isn't just another identification card – it's an important legal document in the United States, paving the way for work, travel, and eventually, citizenship. But with this privilege comes a responsibility: carrying your green card at all times and making sure that it is current.

Carrying your green card with you at all times might seem inconvenient, even burdensome. But there are crucial reasons to consider:
  1. Proof of Legal Residency: Your green card is your official documentation of permanent resident status in the U.S. If stopped at a border patrol checkpoint or similar stop by legal authority, you may risk extended revisions to determine your legal status and more serious issues.

  2. Travel with Confidence: Returning from a trip abroad? A valid green card must be used to return back into the US. Without it, re-entry could be delayed or denied, causing stress and sometimes a large fine.

  3. Access to Opportunities: From opening bank accounts to applying for certain jobs or licenses, your green card is often required. Businesses and institutions rely on it to verify your legal status, often together with your social security card.

  4. Avoiding Penalties: Following the law and carrying your green card is important. Not carrying your green card can be punishable by a fine, jail time, and other legal issues.

Some tips that may be helpful:
  • Invest in a secure wallet or cardholder: Keep your green card separate from other IDs or credit cards, so it is protected and secure.

  • Make sure it’s always updated: Because the renewal period is quite long, make sure that you periodically review the expiration date and make sure to set renewal reminders on your calendar. You should renew several months prior to the expiration as it does take time to process.

  • Consider a digital copy: While not officially accepted as proof of status, having a scan or photo on your phone can act as a reminder in case you forget the physical card. Also, in case you lose your card, USCIS requests a copy of the front and back of the card for replacements and renewals.


If you would like a FREE new immigrant guide with more helpful information about rights and responsibilities with your green card, please submit a contact form requesting the guide here.  Or send an email to:

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