San Diego Immigration Lawyer: Update on Green Card Stamp issues after the Adjustment Interview

The information that is provided in this post is relevant as of Friday May 15, 2009. This is coming from our local AILA chapter Chair.

As many of our readers know, at the conclusion of the Marriage based adjustment of status interview, the immigration officer, upon approval, used to stamp the immigrant’s passport with the I-551 (Green Card) stamp. This used to be an immediate proof that the case has been approved and the applicant could work and travel using this stamp. As the actual production of the Green Cards became so fast, the practice of stamping applicants’ passports stopped as well in most states across the nation.

The stamp mentioning temporary evidence of I-551 or permanent resident status is valid for a year. It is valid proof of permanent resident status for employment and travel purposes. There is no need to worry about traveling on such a simple looking stamp. The ink used is security ink. The Port of Entry (POE) officers can quickly determine if a stamp is genuine. Those with genuine stamps can travel in the same manner as individuals who have received the Form I-551 or the plastic green card. The temporary stamp, which is valid for one year, can be renewed if needed. (Recently, in late January 2009, we have heard that some airlines in Europe are requiring applicants with I-551 stamps to also obtain a travel document in order to board. This may be due to the airlines not fully understanding documentary requirements under U.S. law).

It seems that things are changing, hence the recent notice from USCIS. According to the notice we received, the Green Card Facility in KY is undergoing renovation. USCIS’ card production capability will be reduced over the next several months. They will expand the use of ADIT Temporary Green Card stamps as temporary evidence of LPR status.

The Stamps will be valid for 12 months (previously only 30 days validity was given). Work permits and travel documents (advance paroles) will be collected at the interview from the clients. The stamp will be the only proof of work and travel authorization in such cases. It looks like this policy will continue for the next 6-12 months. This is a nationwide policy and is not taking place only in San Diego.

We will keep you posted with more information as it becomes available.