How to obtain a temporary I-551 Stamp during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Posted on May 08, 2020

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs) would typically schedule an appointment at their local USCIS office to get a temporary I-551 stamp from USCIS when their Green Card was expiring. Most USCIS Application Support Centers would simply put a sticker on the back of the Green Card during a biometrics appointment that was made after filing an I-90 application. The sticker would serve as temporary proof of status as a U.S. lawful permanent resident.

While USCIS Field Offices and Application Support Centers will remain closed to the public for routine services until at least June 4, 2020, USCIS has confirmed that their Contact Center (1-800-375-5283) will continue to schedule local office appointments for those seeking a temporary I-551 stamp “where there is an emergent need”. However, USCIS has not confirmed exactly what circumstances will apply to allow an LPR to make a local appointment to obtain a temporary stamp.

It is likely that appointment will be scheduled for LPRs who need to document their current status for purposes of employment verification. It is also likely that appointments will be granted for LPRs who can document an emergent need for international travel. However, it is not clear that applicants with pending I-751 Petitions (whose 18-month extension has or will expire) will be able to get an appointment for a temporary stamp. In any event, it seems like there would be no harm in trying to schedule the appointment and making an effort to document the need for the stamp to a legitimate reason, such as the need for proof of U.S. immigration status for employment purposes.

Another context in which is is unclear as to whether an appointment can be obtained is where an LPR needs proof of status in order to extend their state driver’s license. Before requesting an appointment, it is recommended that you first review your State’s Division of Motor Vehicle (DMV) guidance during the COVID-19 pandemic to see if your driver’s license has been automatically extended, as many offices are following this procedure. If your State does not have a policy providing for an automatic extension, here, again, it is recommended that you make an effort anyways to get an appointment for a Stamp and do your best to demonstrate a critical or emergent need to obtain an extension. In our experience, these extensions are usually connected to the need to drive for employment purposes.

If you call the USCIS Contact Center to request an appointment for an I-551 stamp, you should be prepared to explain the reason why you are making the request and explain your emergent need for the extension (ie. employment authorization, travel, to get a driver’s license extension).

If you need assistance in making your appointment for your I-551 stamp or if you have any questions regarding this post, call U.S. Immigration Lawyer Sean D. Hummel to schedule an appointment to discuss your case today!

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