All current green card holders must apply for new, fraud-resistant documents by March 20, or risk difficulty in applying for employment or social services, Immigration and Naturalization Service officials announced Friday.
The new card, which will require a photograph, a fingerprint and a signature, will become the key document needed for employers to verify work eligibility, officials said.
Legal permanent residents will still keep their status but may have difficulty getting services or re-entering the country without the new card.
It is estimated that when the renewal process began in 1992, 1.2 million people nationwide required new cards. Rico Cabrera, INS spokesman for the Los Angeles district, said approximately 600,000 people in Southern California need to file applications by the March 20 deadline.
INS officials said the new cards will cost $75, but those who cannot afford it might qualify for a waiver.
INS Deputy Commissioner Chris Sale said those eligible should apply for naturalization, rather than a new green card, for an additional $20.