A Green Card, or best known as a permanent residence card, is issued to non-US citizens as physical proof of permanent residency in the United States. A Green Card holder can work and live anywhere in the United States.
There are numerous ways for a person to obtain legal, permanent resident status, but people who do not have valid Green Cards may create or purchase realistic-looking replicas.
Anyone who offers to sell their Green Card will face criminal penalties. Those caught with fake Green Cards will face felony criminal charges and possible expulsion.
Thus, knowing the characteristics of a fake Green Card will help many immigrants avoid obtaining fake cards and unknowingly getting themselves into trouble.
How Does a Green Card Look?
Like most government documents and cards, Green Cards have undergone numerous changes since their first appearance in 1949. The most significant changes were documentation and design updates.
The Green Card in the United States is now an off-green-colored permanent resident card with the resident’s photo on the left side and their identifying information down the center.
The following information is included on the resident’s card:
- Given Name
- USCIS Number
- Category Designation
- Country of Birth
- Date of Birth
- Expiration Date
- Date of Issuance
Signs of a Fake Green Card
Knowledge and awareness are the keys to spotting a counterfeit Green Card.
Here’s how you can detect Green Card fraud.
Check if there are typos and inconsistencies.
If you notice any of the subjects are misspelled, out of order, or missing, the card is most likely a forgery. For example, a card that misspells “Surname” as “Surmane” is most likely fraudulent.
Check the photo carefully.
Cheap forgeries may include a photograph of someone other than the person carrying the card. More sophisticated forgeries may include genuine cardholder photos. In these cases, run your finger over the photo to ensure it hasn’t adhered on top of another.
Examine the photo’s placement. The photo should be located on the left side of the front of genuine Green Cards. On the reverse side, there should be a holographic photo in the upper left quadrant of the card.
Touch the card to check its condition.
Older cards and low-quality counterfeits usually have raised edges or are double-laminated.
Though higher-quality forgeries do not have frayed edges, you can feel a slightly uneven surface, or even a line, where the card was glued.
Examine the Green Card background.
Using Radio Frequency Identification Technology, the US government has added security features to authentic Green Cards.
Newer cards have a background with variable ink that shifts from gold to green. The card also has a laser fingerprint, which may be difficult for amateurs to replicate.
A permanent resident card documents a person’s legal status in the United States. It includes the USCIS number, the card’s expiration date, and the cardholder’s country of origin and date of birth.
If someone is to verify the information on a forged card, they may hesitate before answering or may give an incorrect answer.
Request another form of identification.
If the person owns an authentic Green Card, all of the personal information, such as the middle initial and date of birth, should match their other identification cards.
What Happens If You Get Caught With a Fake Green Card?
Green Card fraud can lead to deportation. There’s also the unfortunate possibility of being sentenced to a lengthy prison term.
In some circumstances, non-US citizens are also banned from entering the USA for an extended number of days.
For an immigrant, fraud negates all benefits of US citizenship and may result in deportation. Furthermore, the fraud will be recorded on the person’s immigration record, making it impossible for the person to get any future U.S. visa or Green Card.
If US citizens are found guilty of a felony, they could face up to five years in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both. Other criminal charges like visa fraud, harboring an illegal alien, or making false statements, may be applied. Each particular crime carries additional prison sentences and fines.
Awareness Makes a Difference
Whether you are an employer or someone that has recently applied for a Green Card, you must understand what to expect when comparing an authentic Green Card to a fake one.
You can protect yourself and the others who may not be in your position by understanding the difference between an authentic Green Card and a counterfeit one and reporting the seller to the local authorities.
If you’re trying to secure a Green Card, get in touch with an experienced immigration attorney to help you understand the green card application.