If you are familiar with the U.S. immigration system, you’ve noticed that government agencies like U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) have a form number for various documents. Form I-551 is simply the internal identification number given to a specific immigration document. You may also see it used as an I-551 stamp or ADIT stamp.
In this case, the document is a permanent resident card. Form I-551 is the form number for a green card. It is proof of a foreign national’s immigration status to live and work permanently in the United States. If you look closely, you’ll see that “I-551” is printed in the upper left corner of the backside of the current green card.
But Form I-551 may be printed on documents other than the green card. Temporary proof of permanent residency can be on an immigrant visa (for a new immigrant) or on a passport (for an immigrant who has lost a green card).
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Temporary Form I-551 for New Immigrants
If you have been granted permanent residence at a U.S. embassy, a consular officer will place an immigrant visa inside your passport before you depart for America. A machine-readable immigrant visa (MRIV) usually has the following text on it: “UPON ENDORSEMENT SERVES AS TEMPORARY I-551 EVIDENCING PERMANENT RESIDENCE FOR 1 YEAR.”
When a new immigrant first enters the United States, a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer will stamp the passport with an admission stamp that indicates you have permanent resident status. The stamp will also include the date you entered the U.S. Your foreign passport with the MRIV is evidence of permanent residence status for one year from the date of admission. However, you should receive your 10-year green card within approximately 4 to 8 weeks of entry.
I-551 Stamp in Passport for Lost Green Cards
USCIS may issue a temporary Form I-551 for permanent residents who have a lost, stolen or destroyed green card. Generally, this is a stamp that gets placed inside your foreign passport. An example is displayed to the right.
Even if the green card isn’t missing, lawful permanent residents may request temporary proof of their status for other reasons. A complete list of reasons permanent residents may request the I-551 stamp include:
- Their green card is missing;
- They were issued an I-90 receipt notice with extension that has expired;
- They were issued an I-751 receipt notice with extension that has expired; or
- They filed Form N-400 more than six months prior to the green card expiration date, and that card has now expired.
Also known as the Alien Documentation, Identification & Telecommunications (ADIT) stamp, this “I-551 stamp” may be necessary if you need proof of your status while waiting for the new card to arrive. USCIS may be able to mail the stamp to you. In other cases, you may need to attend an Infopass appointment at a USCIS field office. Here’s how to obtain the I-551 stamp:
File Form I-90
You must begin the process to replace the permanent card first. Although it will take several months to get the new card, you’ll need proof of filing Form I-90 to get temporary proof. CitizenPath provides a low-cost service designed by immigration attorneys that helps you prepare the application quickly and correctly. We guarantee approval. Get start here >>
Obtain the I-90 Receipt Number
In order to get your appointment, you’ll need proof that you filed Form I-90. USCIS will mail you Form I-797C Notice of Action (receipt letter) approximately 2 to 4 weeks after filing. If you’ve filed G-1145 with your form, you’ll also get a receipt number by text or e-mail more quickly.
Request an Appointment for the ADIT Stamp
It’s most convenient to schedule your appointment online. When scheduling, select “ADIT Stamp” as the reason for your appointment. Be prepared with your I-90 receipt number, alien registration number, and green card expiration date. (Understandably, many people who lost a green card may not know their alien registration number or expiration date.) Unfortunately, at this time, the online scheduler will not allow you to create an appointment if you do not know your expiration date or your expiration date is in the future. In these situations, you must call.
Alternatively, call USCIS at 1-800-375-5283 and request the temporary I-551 stamp. Be prepared with your receipt number and an explanation why you need urgent proof of your permanent resident status. For example, you may need proof of permanent resident status for employment or to reenter the U.S. after an upcoming trip abroad. USCIS does not make it easy to reach a live person. When the automated system answers, wait for it to ask “How can I help you?” Then, say “Infopass Appointment.” This may help put you in a queue to talk to a live agent.
Attend Appointment for USCIS ADIT Stamp
If you are required to appear at your local USCIS office for a scheduled Infopass appointment, be sure to take the following items:
If your request is urgent, take additional documents as evidence of your need for the I-551 stamp (ADIT stamp). Examples include airline tickets, travel itinerary, letter from lender, doctor’s letter about sick relative or death certificate, company letter, etc.
Regardless of the document type — unexpired physical green card or temporary document — Form I-551 is valid proof of permanent resident status for the purpose of employment and reentry to the United States after travel abroad (of less than one year). Employers should accept an unexpired Form I-551 — card or stamp — as a valid I-9 document.