Green Card: More Than Proof Of Status
Many consider a green card to be just a document that proves one’s status. People treat it as a passport, keep it away from those who can put a wrong spell on it… But little do they know that they must have that green card with them at all times.
The law states the following:
Every alien, eighteen years of age and over, shall at all times carry with him and have in his personal possession any certificate of alien registration or alien registration receipt card issued to him pursuant to subsection (d). Any alien who fails to comply with the provisions of this subsection shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall upon conviction for each offense be fined not to exceed $ 100 or be imprisoned not more than thirty days, or both.” 8 USC § 1304(e).
I, personally, have never heard of anybody being punished for not having their green card on them. However, taking into consideration the fact that times are changing, it would be wise to remember this point and keep that card with you.
Some lawful permanent residents would not have a card: it could have been confiscated at the airport, at an interview (expired card during the I 751 process), or maybe, it never reached the owner because it was lost in the mail. Then, such a person should carry a substitute proof of status: a passport with I551 stamp in it; a notice of action showing that the individual has filed I 751 petition to remove the condition plus another form of identification; a passport with an immigrant visa...