HISTORY of the GREEN CARD?
WHY Isn't the GREEN CARD GREEN?
we know as a "green card" has been many different colors over
the years. We still refer to them as "green cards" for the
same reason dismissal notices are called "pink slips,"
sensationalized news is called "yellow journalism," and
intended distractions are called "red herrings." In each case,
an idea was originally associated with an actual item of the respective
color. A Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) alien living in the
green card is formally known as the Alien Registration Receipt Card,
Form I-151 or I-551. The first cards were Form AR-3 (printed on white
paper), and were the product of the Alien Registration Act of 1940.
as a national defense measure, the Act required all aliens (non-U.S.
citizens) within the
World War II ended and large-scale immigration to the
passage of the Internal Security Act of 1950, new regulations issued by
the INS rendered Alien Registration Receipt Card Form I-151 even more
valuable. As noted above, the AR-3 Alien Registration Receipt Card
(issued primarily in the early 1940's) bore no relation to an alien's
legal or illegal status. Effective April 17, 1951, regulations allowed
those holding AR-3 cards to have them replaced with a new Form I-151
(the green card). Just as I-151's were only issued to Lawful Permanent
Residents entering through ports, only aliens with legal status could
have their AR-3 replaced with an I-151. Aliens who applied for
replacement cards but could not prove their legal admission into the
1951, then, the green Alien Registration Receipt Card Form I-151
represented security to its holder. It indicated the right to
permanently live and work in the
the mid-1970's the INS studied methods to produce a counterfeit-proof
Alien Registration Receipt Card for Lawful Permanent Residents. The
result, introduced in January 1977, was the machine-readable Alien
Registration Receipt Card Form I-551. In use today, the I-551 green card
has been issued in various colors as well, including pink
("rose") and pink-and-blue. Despite these changes in form
number, design, and color, the INS document which represents an alien's
right to live and work in the
Issues First High-Tech 'Green Cards'
Card Includes Sophisticated Security Features
new card incorporates a myriad of security features, including digital
images, holograms, micro-printing, and an optical memory stripe. Its
production requires a unique combination of state-of-the-art technologies
that has never before been used. Previously named the Alien Registration
Receipt Card, the new card is now officially called the Permanent Resident
Card. The card's form number, Form I-551, remains the same.
of the first new cards had been delayed for three months due to unforeseen
quality control problems associated with the start-up of this new
technology. These manufacturing problems have been fixed and the cards are
now being produced at two INS facilities. Mailing of the first 50,000 new
Green Cards to permanent residents begins today, as does a broad outreach
effort to introduce the card and its features to employers and the general
Commissioner Doris Meissner has called the new Green Card "a major
milestone in INS' efforts to combat document fraud and assist employers in
identifying valid cards more easily." She added, "It is part of
a new generation of INS documents that will not only raise the ante
significantly for counterfeiters, but will also aid employers in complying
card's visible security features will make it easier for employers to
verify the card's authenticity and that it relates to the person
presenting it. The card also has many features not readily observable but
which can be identified by INS officers, increasing the card's resistance
to counterfeiting and tampering.
the previous laminated paper cards, the new Permanent Resident Card is a
plastic document similar to a credit card. It has digital photograph and
fingerprint images which are an integral part of the card and, therefore,
more tamper-resistant. It features a hologram depicting the Statue of
Liberty, the letters "
the reverse side of the card, there is an optical memory stripe--similar
to CD-ROM disk technology--with an engraved version of the information
contained on the front of the card, including the cardholder's photograph,
name, signature, date of birth and alien registration number. This
laser-etched information cannot be erased or altered. In addition, this
same information, along with the cardholder's fingerprint, are digitally
encoded in the stripe and can only be read by INS personnel using a
specially designed scanner.
new Permanent Resident Card is being produced by INS' new Integrated Card
Production System (ICPS ) machines, which enable INS to continuously
expand security features to stay ahead of counterfeiters. These
one-of-a-kind machines perform a number of complex tasks in a single
automated process. These tasks range from digital printing, laser etching
and encoding the optical stripe, to applying other visible and invisible
security features and generating the card's mailing package. By
automatically producing a complete package ready for mailing, the ICPS
will reduce manufacturing time and greatly increase the accuracy of
information in the new cards.
of the new cards is underway in
of previous versions of the Green Card do not need to immediately replace
their cards. Cards issued since 1989 are valid for 10 years and will
remain valid until the expiration date indicated on the face of the
card--allowing gradual card replacement for the approximately 10 million
current cardholders. Form I-551 Green Cards issued from 1977 to 1989 which
do not have an expiration date will remain valid until INS implements an
official replacement program in the future.
new "Green Card" is part of a multi-year effort to combat
document fraud. It is the second in a series of INS cards to be produced
by the new card production system--following the January 1997 redesign of
the Employment Authorization Document. INS will also use the ICPS to begin
producing a new high-tech "Laser Visa" for the Department of
State to issue in lieu of the old Border Crossing Card. INS will provide
the first Laser Visa cards to the Department of State in May. Future uses
of the ICPS include producing more fraud-resistant versions of other
specialized cards, such as the Foreign Student Card.