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Is Green Card really Green ?

Updated: Nov 13, 2019


This is our first post in our educational series on immigration laws of United States.


Green card is a term used for a permanent resident card that lawful permanent residents are issued by the US federal government. These cards allow immigrants to work, live, and study inside of the USA legally.


Is a green card really green? Have you ever wondered if green cards are really green?

Historically they were green and that is how they got the name. The Alien Registration Act of 1940 was the first time that the USA required all immigrants to be registered. Immigrants had to fill out forms at the local post office that were sent to the federal government. The receipt card known as AR-3 form was white and allowed immigrants to prove they had registered their immigrant status.

With the increase of immigrants after World War Two the system changed and immigrants had to register at the port of entry and not the post office. This new form I-151 was on a special pale green paper and so the card bean being referred to as the green card.

Counterfeiting the green cards became a problem and there were 17 changes made to form I-151 between 1952 and 1977, and then in 1977 it became Form I-551 the resident alien card. This was still green but no longer made of paper. In 1989 the I-551 was changed from a green to peach colored card. In 2010 the permanent resident card returned to a green colored card.


In our next post we will discuss pathways to become Unites States resident.

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