How to Recognize a Fake Green Card

Scanning a green card for official security features can help you determine green card authenticity.
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A green card, also known as a permanent residence card, is physical proof of an immigrant's legal right to live and work in the United States. There are many ways for a person to obtain legal, permanent resident status, but sometimes, people who do not have valid green cards make or purchase realistic-looking replicas. As immigration officials and security personnel know, checking for a few key things can help you spot the fakes.

Check the photo carefully. Inexpensive fakes sometimes bear a photo of someone who is not the person carrying the card. More sophisticated forgeries could feature authentic cardholder photos. In such cases, run your finger over the photo to confirm that it hasn't been adhered on top of another picture. Check the placement of the photo. On authentic green cards, the photo is located on the left side of the front. In the 2010 redesign, there is a holographic photo in the upper left quadrant on the reverse side of the card.

Examine the condition of the card by handling. Older cards and poor-quality fakes often have raised edges or have been double-laminated. Though better-quality forgeries do not have frayed edges, you can feel a slightly uneven surface, or even a line, where the card has been glued.

Read More: How Long Does it Take to Get a Green Card?

Look at the green card background. The newly designed green cards now feature a background on which the variable ink shifts from shades of gold to green. In addition, the U.S. government has added security features on authentic green cards using Radio Frequency Identification Technology. There also is a laser fingerprint on the card, which could be difficult for amateurs to reproduce.

Ask questions. A permanent resident card lists a person's U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service identification number, the card's expiration date, and the cardholder's country of origin and date of birth. Often, if you ask a person to verify the information on a forged card, he or she hesitates slightly before answering or could give the wrong answer.

Ask to see another form of identification. If the person is carrying an authentic green card, all the personal information on both cards, such as the middle initial and date of birth, must match.


  • Do not assume a double-laminated green card is a fake. Sometimes, it is a quick fix for a damaged card.


  • Do not rely on the social security number to detect a fake green card. Even counterfeit cards usually feature real social security numbers.

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