The coronavirus has caused unprecedented difficulties for many immigrants in the U.S. What happens when there is no green card or it’s expired?
The question of the I-551 stamp is one of the many issues that has arisen during the pandemic. The good news? the USCIS offices are set to open on June 4th, we hope. In the meantime:
The 551 Stamp
The I-551 Stamp is typically issued for LPR’s who arrive in the U.S. on a visa and are green card approved, but have not yet obtained the physical card. Although, the foreigner is approved for a green card, there is no proof of it. In this situation, a CBP officer will often stamp the passport, which is good evidence that the foreigner is green card approved. The stamp has a one year validity.
Additionally, LPR’s whose green card is expiring can obtain a I-551 stamp so to prove their legal status. This is particularly important for LPR’s whose green cards are expiring, and an employer wants proof of permanent resident status. Likewise, an LPR may need to travel internationally, need a driver’s license or license renewal; or need to replace a lost social security card.
Normally, an LPR can apply at a local USCIS office for a 551 stamp for good cause.
At this time, the USCIS offices are allowing LPR’s to set up appointments to obtain the I-551 stamp. However, only in the case of an emergency. What constitutes an emergency is uncertain. You should prepare all relevant documentation to show the urgent need for a 551 stamp when contacting the USCIS Customer Service.