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Individual Scenarios Dictate Green Card Request Form

Forms I-551 and I-90 both serve as green card applications, but understanding the differences between them helps permanent resident applicants achieve a smooth process.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) offers green cards through a couple of different application formats.  Forms I-551 and I-90 both serve as green card applications, but understanding the differences between them helps applicants achieve a smooth process in establishing or maintaining permanent residency.

Form I-551, Alien Registration Receipt Card is the document commonly referred to as a green card. The card, which is literally green in color, indicates federal approval for an immigrant to live and work in the United States.  Job skills, family ties, investment and even a lottery are all possible avenues in building green card eligibility for both immigrant and nonimmigrant visa holders.

Green cards and their permissions to live and work in the United States comes in two varieties: permanent and conditional. Permanent green card beneficiaries receive indefinite permission to live and work in the United States. Conditional green card holders– those who receive a green card through marriage to a U.S  citizen– receive permissions for two years before reaching permanent green card eligibility.

While those who are initially applying for a green card do so with Form I-551, renewal or replacement of an existing green card requires the Form I-90 application.

Applicants with permanent Form I-551 permissions should file Form I-90 when their initial green cards need a replacement for one reason or another.

Conditional permanent residents seeking permanent legal residency will not file Form I-90.

Permanent legal residents replace or renew their green cards using Form I-90 when the original card is:

  • Lost, stolen, mutilated or destroyed
  • Never received
  • Issued with incorrect data due to USCIS administrative error
  • Issued with information other than a legally changed name or other biographic information
  • Expired or will expire within six months
  • Due to expire after the recipient’s 16th birthday and the renewal filing is within 30 days of the 14th birthday
  • Due to expire before the recipient’s 16th birthday and the renewal filing is within 30 days of the 14th birthday

USCIS also requires Form I-90 applications from green card recipients who:

  • Takes up commuter status– working regularly in the United States while residing in Canada or Mexico
  • Takes up U.S residency after status as a resident commuter
  • Has been automatically converted to lawful permanent resident status
  • Has an older edition of the card and must replace it with the current version

USCIS charges $455 for Form I-90 applications. This fee is waived under certain conditions, particularly in cases of USCIS error.

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