USCIS is extending the validity of conditional permanent residence cards, or green cards, for 48 months beyond the card’s expiration date.

The move is in response to the long processing delays for those filing petitions to remove conditions on residence – the Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence for certain individuals who gained their status through marriage and the Form I-829, Petition by Investor to Remove Conditions on Permanent Residence Status.

USCIS is changing the language on the receipt notices for these petitions and will issue new receipt notices to individuals whose cases are pending and already received receipt notices with shorter extensions.

Individuals will be able to present the new receipt notices with their expired green cards as evidence of continued status and for employment authorization and travel purposes.

In making this announcement, USCIS also reminded conditional green card holders that if they plan to be outside of the country for a year or more, they should apply for a re-entry permit before leaving the United States.

Along with this, USCIS has also redesigned Permanent Residence Cards and Employment Authorization Documents to improve service and increase security. The new cards will have more “detailed artwork; tactile printing that is better integrated with the artwork; enhanced optically variable ink; highly secure holographic images on the front and back of the cards; a layer-reveal feature with a partial window on the back photo box; and data fields displayed in different places than on previous versions.”

Although new cards are being introduced, current cards remain valid until their expiration date or until the end date of any automatic extension as indicated by an I-797, Notice of Action, receipt or in a Federal Register notice. Indeed, USCIS will continue to use their existing card stock even as they roll out the new cards. Both versions will be acceptable. There are some older green cards that do not have any expiration date. Those remain valid, but USCIS encourages holders to “consider applying for a replacement card to prevent fraud or tampering should the card ever get lost or stolen.”

Please contact a Jackson Lewis attorney with any questions.