Recent versions of the green card include an expiration date. However, many people still have a green card with no expiration date. During the 1970’s and 1980’s, the U.S. government issued green cards that do not have an expiration date printed on them. Generally, you may continue to use these cards. But cards with no expiry date do carry some risks.
I-151 No Longer Valid
First, make sure you have a valid version of the card. If you are holding a card that says “I-151” or “Form I-151” in small print anywhere on the card, you have an invalid card. In 1977, the U.S. government discontinued the I-151. They replaced it with the I-551. Form I-151 and Form I-551 are simply the government’s internal name for green card.
Problems with a Green Card with No Expiration Date
So as long as you have the I-551 version of the green card, it is still valid – even if there’s no expiration date printed on it. USCIS has discussed implementing a rule requiring permanent residents to replace green cards that lack expiration dates, but they have not implemented such a rule to date.
Nonetheless, there are still several reasons to replace a green card with no expiration date.
Entry to the United States
Older green cards with no expiration dates can present significant problems for travelers. If a Customs & Border Protection (CBP) officer is unable to identify you from the old photo as the legal owner of the green card, you could be delayed until your identity is verified. For example, if the photo was taken when you were much younger, you may be difficult to recognize. In some cases the officer may give you a warning to replace the card. CBP officers have broad discretion to deny entry. Although you may not be legally obligated to replace the green card, it isn’t worth the delays and expenses related with problems at the port of entry.
A green card with no expiration date could even present a problem for employers. By virtue of the card being old, it may be deteriorated or damaged. Again, a dated photograph may also make some employers uncomfortable.
Another good reason to update your green card is if you travel frequently. Global Entry kiosks require newer green cards. The GE kiosks cannot read the old format green cards.
Replacing an Old Green Card
To replace an old green card with no expiration date, you’ll need to file Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card. When replacing a card, you need to provide a reason. If you replacing for the reasons discussed in this article, you can select “I have a prior edition of the Alien Registration Card, or I am applying to replace my current Permanent Resident Card for a reason that is not specified above.”