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Machine Readable PR Cards

Any foreign citizen who has applied and been accepted for permanent residence in the US will have a PR card, which up until a few years ago was known as a ‘green card’ – because of it’s color. Today the ‘green card’ comes in pink and blue as well as the traditional green and it contains machine readable data about you. In Canada the card is dubbed the ‘Maple Leaf card’.

By law legal aliens aged 18 and over, must always carry their PR card with them otherwise they can be charged with a misdemeanor. It is legal proof that you can live and work in the United States forever providing you don’t commit any offences or violate any laws.

In 2010, the U.S. government started to issue cards containing security features, which would make it easy to identify the holder and harder to produce fraudulent cards. New cards contain the biometric data of the holder, which includes their image and their fingerprints. The new cards are machine readable and can be used as REAL ID and for application to the Trusted Traveler programs NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST and Global Entry.

Whilst permanent residence doesn’t expire, the PR cards must be renewed every 10 years in the USA and 5 years in Canada. Back in the day, old United States PR cards did not have to be renewed and did not contain an expiry date. Unfortunately, whilst renewing your PR card is a hassle, it’s something that all holders of the old card must do! The law is changing and, in an attempt, to make our borders more impenetrable, it’s crucial that we all have the latest valid ID. If your PR card is not machine readable – you need to change it – now!