USCIS Form I-551, Permanent Resident Card

USCIS Form I-551, Permanent Resident Card
USCIS Form I-551, Permanent Resident Card

What Is Form I-551? 

USCIS Form I-551, Permanent Resident Card, is a legal document that grants the individual a permanent resident status in the U.S. and serves as evidence of the permission to stay in the U.S. for long periods of time. Additionally, Form I-551 grants employment authorization so that the individual has the right to work in the U.S.

Alternate Name:

  • U.S. Green Card.

This form is valid for a maximum of ten years and it must be renewed if you wish to remain a permanent resident or obtain U.S. citizenship. Once your application for a Green Card is approved, you will be able to live and work in the U.S. and possibly apply to become a naturalized citizen later. 

This form was released by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The latest version of the form was issued in May 2017 with all previous editions obsolete.

What Does Form I-551 Look Like?

As of today, no Form I-551 PDF copies are available for download online. The actual Green Card features a photo of the owner, their name, USCIS number, alien registration number, visa category, laser-engraved fingerprint, dates of issuance, and expiration. 


The Green Card holder has to maintain permanent residence status. It is possible to get Form I-551 through various ways – marriage, employment, asylum and refugee status, etc. You are eligible for the Green Card if you fall under one of these categories:

  • Close relatives of U.S. citizens – spouses and children under the age of 21. Parents of a U.S. citizen do not qualify as immediate relatives;
  • Asylum seekers and refugees – individuals who have extreme hardship in their home country;
  • Employment-based immigrants – individuals whose knowledge and skills make them valuable to the U.S.;
  • Lottery winners – each year the Green Card lottery makes available 55,000 immigrant visas to diversify the immigrant population in the U.S. 

The documents required to obtain Form I-551 vary by situation but, generally, applicants need to present the following information and documents: birth certificate, marriage certificate, financial documentation, proof of petitioner’s (sponsor’s) U.S. citizenship or permanent residence, police, court, and prison records, military records, proof of employment, parents’ information, and current or expired U.S. visas. 

How to Get a United States Green Card?

Follow these steps to receive a Permanent Resident Card:

  • Find out if you are eligible;
  • Fill out Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence. The main purpose of this form is to prove that the individual is eligible for U.S. permanent residency;
  • Go to the interview scheduled by the USCIS after they review the application.

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