Over the past weekend, we received numerous emails to our Q&A section seeking clarification about the need to carry immigration documents while traveling inside the United States.  In other words, what documents do you have to carry with you when you visit the neighborhood grocery store?

The only time the Office put out clarification on this issue was following the now infamous NSEERS registration rule. We took it down subsequently so as not to allow it to percolate to sources which could then misuse it!

There is no doubt that there is a lot of paranoia at present regarding immigration enforcement and how it affects both undocumented and legal immigrants. Here is clarification on what you need to know.

Both Non-immigrants and Permanent Residents (Green Card holders) are required to carry their status related documents on their person at all times. Not doing so could result in a fine ($100.00), or conviction (30 days), or both!


The Rule that governs this requirement is contained in 8 CFR §§ 264 (d) and (e) [8 U.S.C. 1304] and states in part:

(d) Certificate of alien registration or alien receipt card

Every alien in the United States who has been registered and fingerprinted under the provisions of the Alien Registration Act, 1940, or under the provisions of this chapter shall be issued a certificate of alien registration or an alien registration receipt card in such form and manner and at such time as shall be prescribed under regulations issued by the Attorney General.

(e) Personal possession of registration or receipt card; penalties

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) of this section. 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.

Emphasis Supplied.

For most non-immigrants, this would be their passport, non-immigrant Approval Notice and I-94 – electronic record and for Permanent Residents, the I-551, Permanent Resident Card. Given the uncertainty of law enforcement actions, we highly recommend carrying your passport, approval notice (original) and I-94 “print out” to show that you have valid status in the U.S.  Permanent Residents are advised to carry their I-551 – “Green Card”.