What must you carry on your person for identification if you are in the United States in a legal status?

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Carry identification and report change of address

What must you carry on your person for identification if you are in the United States in a legal status?

By law, every person who is not a US citizen and is a present in the United States in legal status must carry with them on their person proof of their identity and legal status. And this requirement applies to both nonimmigrants as well as green card holders. Failure to carry AND produce these documents are a criminal offense (misdemeanor). If any of the immigration related documents have been lost, you are required to immediately apply for replacement and carry some evidence that you have done so.

We recommend, you carry with you the following items (even though some of this may be a bit of an overkill):

Green Card Holders

Green Card (also called Form I-551)
Drivers license 

Nonimmigrants on a work visa

(E, H, L, O, P, R visa/status holders)

Approval Notice from the USCIS
I-94, Arrival Departure Record
Drivers License

TN Holders

I-94
Drivers licence

G Visa holders

I-94
Your work ID
Drivers License

Nonimmigrants on a student visa

(F-1, J-1, M-1)

Your Form I-20 (F-1, M-1)  or DS 2019 (J-1)
Your I-94
Your school ID

Nonimmigrants, Other

(B-1, B-2)

I-94
Some photo ID

Families of nonimmigrant visa holders described above

I-94
Some photo ID like drivers license
Status approval notice, if applicable
EAD, if work authorized, like H-4 EAD, L-2 EAD, E EAD

Pending Adjustment of Status

If you still have a currently active H or L visa, the documents described above for that status would be enough.  If you have allowed the H or L status to lapse or anyone who is in AOS process, carry:

EAD (Also called Form I-766)
AOS (I-485) fees receipt
If EAD has expired and renewal is pending, carry your old EAD and fee receipt of the extension filing.  If you don't yet have the receipt, carrying the old EAD should meet legal requirements.
Drivers License 

For decades, these requirements have existed on the books, but were largely ignored by the government and foreign visitors and residents. 

Report your change of address

Additionally, all immigrants and nonimmigrants must report their change of address to the government within 10 days of moving (File Form AR-11). Failure to do so is also a criminal offense.

More Details

Under the USCIS regulations, the following documents are evidence of your legal status (“registration”), that is, your legal status in the USA:

(b) Evidence of registration. The following forms constitute evidence of registration:

FORM NO. AND CLASS

I-94, Arrival-Departure Record -- Aliens admitted as nonimmigrants; aliens paroled into the United States under section 212(d)(5) of the Immigration and Nationality Act; aliens whose claimed entry prior to July 1, 1924, cannot be verified, they having satisfactorily established residence in the United States since prior to July 1, 1924; and aliens granted permission to depart without the institution of deportation proceedings.

 I-95, Crewmen's Landing Permit -- Crewmen arriving by vessel or aircraft.

I-184, Alien Crewman Landing Permit and Identification Card -- Crewmen arriving by vessel.

I-185, Nonresident Alien Canadian Border Crossing Card --Citizens of Canada or British subjects residing in Canada.

I-186, Nonresident Alien Mexican Border Crossing Card -- Citizens of Mexico residing in Mexico.

 I-221, Order to Show Cause and Notice of Hearing -- Aliens against whom deportation proceedings are being instituted.

 I-221S, Order to Show Cause, Notice of Hearing, and Warrant for Arrest of Alien -- Aliens against whom deportation proceedings are being instituted.

 I-551, Permanent Resident Card -- Lawful permanent resident of the United States.

 I-766, Employment Authorization Document.

 Form I-862, Notice to Appear--Aliens against whom removal proceedings are being instituted.

 Form I-863, Notice of Referral to Immigration Judge--Aliens against whom removal proceedings are being instituted.

 Note to paragraph (b): In addition to the forms noted in this paragraph (b), a valid, unexpired nonimmigrant DHS admission or parole stamp in a foreign passport constitutes evidence of registration.

(c) Replacement of alien registration. Any alien whose registration document is not available for any reason must immediately apply for a replacement document in the manner prescribed by USCIS.


YouTube Video : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h9FThw8Pis

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Comments

You must carry the I-94 printout at all times. A photo ID is also important. The evidence of status COULD be in the forms of copies, I think. It is not required, but I recommend you do carry it.

Note: Not intended to create attorney-client relationship.  Answers could be incomplete, incorrect or outdated.  Use caution.

Dear Rajiv-ji,

Are you recommending the carry these papers with us every moment we are outside our residence in US, such as going to office, groceries and a trip to the local YMCA?
We are on H (H-1B and H-4).
For I-94, Arrival Departure Record, can a printout from the web sufficient? We have US driver's licence, which we carry all the time. Do we need to carry original I-797A all th time?

Thanks a lot for all your help.

SS.

You must carry the I-94 printout at all times. A photo ID is also important. The evidence of status COULD be in the forms of copies, I think. It is not required, but I recommend you do carry it.

Note: Not intended to create attorney-client relationship.  Answers could be incomplete, incorrect or outdated.  Use caution.

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