The I-551 Stamp: The Complete Guide

Updated on April 10, 2024

At a Glance

  • The I-551 stamp serves as temporary proof of permanent resident status during Green Card renewal.
  • Obtained through an InfoPass appointment at a USCIS office, requiring documents like a valid passport, appointment notice, I-90 receipt, and proof of residence.
  • The stamp is valid for 6 months to 1 year or until the passport expires.
  • The cost involves the application fee for Form I-90 and a biometric fee.

Is your green card going to expire soon? Do you want to make sure you can prove your resident status in the U.S. is valid while your new Green Card is being generated? The way to make sure you can prove your Green Card is on the way is by getting an I-551 stamp in your passport. This article will go over what the I-551 stamp is and how it can help you in more detail.

What Is an I-551 Stamp?

The I-551 Stamp, commonly referred to as the Temporary Evidence Stamp or ADIT Stamp, plays a vital role for individuals in the U.S. whose official Green Card is pending, lost, or undergoing renewal. Essentially, it acts as a temporary verification of one’s lawful permanent resident status in the United States, providing a crucial bridge during transitional times. For more information, you can visit USCIS’s explanation of Green Card replacement and renewal.

When Do You need an I-551 Stamp?

There are two general circumstances when you would need an I-551 stamp:

For New Immigrants

When you are a new immigrant granted permanent residence, typically at a U.S. embassy, you’ll receive a Machine-Readable Immigrant Visa (MRIV) in your passport. This MRIV acts as a temporary I-551, providing evidence of permanent residence for one year from the date of your admission to the U.S. This period allows you to settle in the U.S. while awaiting your official 10-year Green Card.

Replacing or Renewing Green Cards

In cases where your Green Card is lost, stolen, or under renewal, the I-551 Stamp in your passport offers a temporary solution. It confirms your status as a lawful permanent resident, ensuring your rights are protected during this interim phase.

Why Do You Need an I-551 Stamp?

There are a few crucial reasons you’ll need to make sure you have an I-551 stamp:

Aiding New U.S. Residents

For those who’ve just arrived in the U.S., the MRIV and associated passport stamp enable you to work and live in the U.S. as a permanent resident during your first year.

Employment Verification

The MRIV, accompanied by the passport stamp, serves as acceptable List A documents for employment verification, valid for one year following your entry into the U.S.

In the Event of a Lost Green Card

Should you find yourself without your Green Card due to it being lost, stolen, or destroyed, the I-551 Stamp steps in as an interim proof of your permanent residency.

Travel Requirements

For permanent residents in the midst of Green Card processing but needing to travel, the I-551 Stamp is a safeguard. It ensures your ability to leave and re-enter the U.S. without issues, maintaining your resident status intact.

How to Get Your I-551 Stamp: 5 Steps

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you through the process:

Step 1: Identify Your Need

Determine if you require the I-551 Stamp. Common reasons include awaiting Green Card renewal, replacement of a lost or stolen Green Card, or needing proof of legal status for travel or employment.

Step 2: Request an Appointment Online

USCIS has introduced a new method for making appointments, moving away from the previous InfoPass system. Now, you can request an in-person appointment at your local field office using USCIS’s online appointment request form. This form allows individuals or legal representatives to request an appointment for services such as obtaining an ADIT stamp. However, it’s important to note that this is not a self-scheduling tool. After submitting your request, the USCIS Contact Center will review the availability of in-person appointments at the specific field office and then confirm and schedule an available date and time for you.

Step 3: Gather Required Documents

Prepare for your appointment by gathering necessary documents. These typically include:

  • A valid, unexpired passport.
  • Form I-797 Notice of Action (I-90 receipt letter if your Green Card renewal or replacement is pending).
  • A copy of your lost or damaged Green Card, if available.
  • Additional documents to substantiate your urgent need for the stamp, such as travel tickets, employer letters, or other relevant proofs.

Step 4: Attend the Appointment

During your InfoPass appointment, a USCIS officer will review your case and, if appropriate, place the I-551 Stamp in your passport. This stamp will serve as temporary evidence of your lawful permanent resident status.

Step 5: Post-Appointment Follow-Up

Keep a copy of any documents provided by USCIS and follow any additional instructions they may give. This stamp is usually valid until the date your new Green Card is expected to arrive.

By following these steps, you can smoothly navigate the process of obtaining your I-551 Stamp, ensuring your status remains uninterrupted in the U.S.

Documents Required for an I-551

To obtain an I-551 stamp on your passport, you would need to submit the following set of documents and proof:

  • A valid passport
  • Your InfoPass appointment notice (can be printed from the USCIS website)
  • Form I-90 (Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card) receipt notice
  • Proof of residence within the jurisdiction of the USCIS office
  • Copy of expired or lost Green Card (if available)
  • A copy of a date-stamped ASC appointment notice showing you appeared for your biometrics appointment, if applicable.

Besides these mandatory documents, you may be asked to produce additional documents demonstrating the need for the stamp under certain emergency circumstances like an impending death in the family or an imminent trip abroad. There is a section on the USCIS website where you can ask specific questions and get an immediate response from the proper authorities.

Cost of an I-551 Stamp

There is no direct fee associated with the I-551 stamp. However, to apply for the I-551 stamp, you need to have already prepared a Form I-90—which costs $445 per person. Additionally, there is an $85 fee involved for the biometric procedure.

How Long Is an I-551 Stamp Valid?

Temporary evidence of permanent resident status is valid for a period of 6 months to 1 year from the date of issuance. If your passport is due to expire before that time, then the I-551 stamp validity will mostly be set until the expiration date of the passport.

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I-551 Stamp Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Below, you will find some common questions about I-551 stamps and their answers.

What is an I-551 Stamp?

The I-551 Stamp, also known as the Temporary Evidence Stamp or ADIT Stamp, is a temporary validation of an individual’s lawful permanent resident status in the United States. It’s used when the official Green Card is pending, lost, or in the renewal process.

Who needs an I-551 Stamp?

Individuals who need an I-551 Stamp typically include those awaiting Green Card renewal, replacement of a lost or stolen Green Card, or those requiring proof of legal status for travel or employment.

How do I request an appointment for an I-551 Stamp?

You can request an appointment for an I-551 Stamp using the USCIS’s online appointment request form. This form allows you to request an in-person appointment at a local field office, and the USCIS Contact Center will review and schedule your appointment based on availability.

What documents are required for obtaining an I-551 Stamp?

You will need a valid, unexpired passport, Form I-797 Notice of Action for pending Green Card applications, and if possible, a copy of your lost or damaged Green Card. Additional documents may be required to demonstrate the urgency of your need.

How long is the I-551 Stamp valid?

The validity of the I-551 Stamp varies depending on individual circumstances, but it generally serves as a temporary proof of status until your Green Card is processed and received.

Can I travel outside the U.S. with an I-551 Stamp?

Yes, the I-551 Stamp allows you to travel outside the U.S. and re-enter as it serves as temporary evidence of your lawful permanent resident status.

Is the I-551 Stamp the same as a Green Card?

No, the I-551 Stamp is not the same as a Green Card. It is a temporary measure used while awaiting the issuance, renewal, or replacement of your Green Card.

Can I work in the U.S. with an I-551 Stamp?

Yes, the I-551 Stamp serves as proof of your eligibility to work in the United States, similar to a Green Card, until your official Green Card is issued or renewed.

hat if my I-551 Stamp expires before I receive my Green Card?

If your I-551 Stamp expires before you receive your Green Card, you should contact USCIS to understand the next steps, which may involve getting a new stamp or other interim documentation.

How can I check the status of my Green Card application?

You can check the status of your Green Card application online through the USCIS website using your application receipt number.

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.

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