Integrity Legal

30th Jan 2010

The US visa process is a time consuming endeavor, but for those who eventually obtain a visa the process can seem well worth the wait as United States Permanent Residence entails both the right to remain in the USA as well as the right to take up employment. The Resident Alien Card, also know as the “Green Card,” is a very important document for US permanent residents. Upon entry in the United States on an Immigrant visa (such as an IR-1 visa or CR-1 visa), the entrant is given an I-551 stamp in his or her passport. This stamp is, for all intents and purposes, the entrant’s “green Card,” until a proper resident alien card is issued. In the past, Resident Alien Cards were sent to American lawful permanent residents by mail, but there were situations where the Resident Alien did not receive there “Green Card” and this caused problems. In a recent USCIS stakeholder’s meeting this issue was discussed as the following question was posed:

“According to current USCIS practice, when a green card is sent to an address, but the applicant does not receive it, and the package is not returned to USCIS as undeliverable, the client must pay a $370 fee to request another card. This is very difficult for indigent clients. Given the importance of this document, could USCIS institute a policy of sending green cards by certified mail, return receipt requested?”

The issues involved in this question impact aliens in the USA on a daily basis and luckily the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) appears to have come up with a solution to deal with this problem. The details of this solution are contained in the Service’s response below:

“USCIS has developed a means to deliver our secure documents called the Secure Mail Initiative (SMI). This involves sending the secure documents using U.S. Postal Service Priority Mail with Delivery Confirmation. Using this process allows us to track each individual piece of mail electronically through the U.S. Postal Service and speeds our delivery time while enhancing accountability to customers. Currently, we are experiencing tremendous success with SMI in our travel booklet product line (Refugee Travel Documents, Form I-571 and Re-entry Permits, Form I-327).”

Hopefully the Secure Mail Initiative will solve this problem in the vast majority of cases. Although no plan is perfect, it seems like this new method of mailing important immigration documentation will ensure document receipt in most cases as the recipient, or someone in the same household, will be required to confirm delivery of this documentation.

This issue is not only relevant for those with an Immigrant visa, it is also of importance for those who enter the USA on a K1 visa or a K-3 Visa as these travel documents are dual intent visas and require adjustment of status in order for the alien spouse to remain in the USA in Lawful Permanent Resident Status. Assuming that the I-485 adjustment of status application is approved, the alien will receive his or her resident alien card in the mail as well. Due to timing issues, the Secure Mail Initiative may be as beneficial, if not more so, to immigrants in these visa categories as it is more likely that these aliens will have changed their address while awaiting approval of the adjustment of status application.

We at Integrity Legal commend USCIS for taking this issue seriously and providing a workable solution to what can be a difficult problem.

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