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"Green Card" History

You may wonder why it's not called a "pink card," but then the American term for an automobile registration is "pink slips" even though they aren't pink.
Who says it's impossible to have a color-blind society?

Why is it called the Green Card?

The design of the "alien registration receipt card" has changed over the years for various reasons, not the least of which is preventing forgeries. In fact, the original Alien Registration Card (Form AR-3) wasn't green either, but the 1940 law requiring all foreign nationals to register didn't grant the same rights that today's green card does.

Initially, the AR-3 was designed to assist in tracking aliens living in the United States, but it didn't distinguish between permanent and temporary residents. After World War II, the first green "green card" (I-151)-the one from which the term derives-was created. Residents with AR-3s who could prove legal entry into the United States received this card.

In 1951, new rights were granted to green card holders, but because these new cards were so valuable, forged documents began to appear. In 1977, the current green card, which is now pink, was made machine-readable to prevent forgeries (I-551). This was the 19th version of the "green card." The cards have been issued in pale blue, dark blue, pink, and pink-and-blue.

Green Card |



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