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7 Ways To Spot A Fake Permanent Resident Card

Spot A Fake Permanent Resident Card – For employers dealing with Permanent Resident Cards, commonly known as “green cards,” as part of their hiring process and I-9 form requirements, detecting a fake one can be a crucial skill.

How To Spot A Fake Permanent Resident Card

Sometimes, a quick glance can reveal inconsistencies in fonts, alignments, and layouts that don’t match genuine green cards. You might also notice a lack of standard security features or glaring typos on the card’s face.


When you, as an employer, suspect that a document, especially a green card, might be fraudulent during your initial review, it’s essential to investigate further. Here, we’ll outline some common signs that can help you identify a fake green card.

Signs of a Fake Permanent Resident Card:

  1. Inconsistent Font, Alignment, or Layout: Genuine green cards adhere to specific font styles, alignments, and layouts. If these elements look off, it’s worth scrutinizing the document further.
  2. References to INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service): The INS ceased to exist in 2003, becoming part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Legitimate green cards issued after this transition should not mention the INS. Look for the DHS seal.
  3. Version Mismatch: Ensure the card corresponds to the appropriate version for its issuance date. Check the Handbook for Employers for examples. Note that the card’s issue date is different from the date permanent residence began.
  4. Internal Inconsistencies: Verify that the USCIS number on the card matches the number on the back, and that the date of birth matches the second line of “code” on the back.
  5. Typos and Grammatical Errors: Fake green cards often contain errors, particularly on the back of the card.
  6. “Resident Alien” Card Expiry Date: Cards with expiration dates in 2009 or later are suspect. Resident Alien cards without expiration dates are acceptable for I-9 purposes, while those with expiration dates should have expired in 2008 or earlier.
  7. Incorrect Form Number: Genuine green cards issued since 1979 bear the form number I-551, usually found on the back in the upper left corner. Be cautious of cards with 1-551 (pronounced “one”-551) or I-766, which corresponds to an Employment Authorization Document, not a green card. Some fakes may display random numbers following the “I.”

Uncertainty? Seek Guidance:

If you’re unsure whether a green card is fake or legitimate, refrain from rejecting it outright. Having a clear I-9 policy in place is crucial, and consulting an immigration attorney for guidance on your responsibilities in document review is often the wisest course of action.

Remember, while you’re not expected to be a document expert, these pointers can help you conduct a preliminary assessment. When in doubt, seek professional advice to ensure compliance and fair hiring practices.


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