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Whenever I enter the US, I encounter machines at immigration that take a photo and print a receipt. They always print the receipt with an X on it so that I have to spend longer at the counter.

All of my family members' green cards (issued at the same time) work with these machines. I thought that this was due to my photo but when I applied for a driver's license, I was told the machines at the DMV could not process my green card either, which leads me to suspect that there is something wrong with my green card.

My card was issued in 2010 and is valid til 2020.

People at the desk never seem suspicious that my card was rejected, so I don't think that this is an uncommon issue.

Are there any known problems with old green cards not working with certain automated machines? How would I go about getting a green card that works better with these machines?

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  • Try joining a known traveller program eg cbp.gov/travel/trusted-traveler-programs/global-entry – A E Jul 26 '18 at 13:32
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    This has nothing to do with expatriates. Closing for that reason is inappropriate. It's about crossing the border controls at a US port of entry. – Michael Hampton Jul 26 '18 at 13:49
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    And Guy, I think you will find this useful. – Michael Hampton Jul 26 '18 at 13:50
  • @MichaelHampton Huh, I never looked at the codes. Will do next time. Thanks – Guy Montag Jul 26 '18 at 17:25
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    @phoog Expatriates may have a green card, but using one to go through passport control has always been a question for this site. – Michael Hampton Jul 26 '18 at 19:17
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Like passports, your green card also has an RFID chip in it, which allows for machine reading. Occasionally, these chips stop working. If this chip is broken, then the Automated Passport Control kiosk will always reject it. The referral code printed on the X receipt should be TR in this case. The Android app ReadID can read the chip in passports and green cards, so you can tell for yourself if the chip is working or broken. (I'm not aware of an iOS app which can reliably read passport/ID chips.)

Since USCIS started issuing green cards with RFID chips in mid-2010, and your card was issued in 2010, it's also possible that you received one of the last cards without a chip.

In either case, if it really bothers you, you can get a replacement green card. But since that costs $455, you might want to wait until you have to replace it anyway at its expiration. Or you may be able to naturalize as a US citizen, but that's a topic for another site...

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    It's also possible that the green card in question was issued before the US started including RFID chips in green cards. Also, "machine readable" traditionally refers to the optical scanning of the document rather than RFID reading, although I suppose the distinction is probably blurring with time. – phoog Jul 26 '18 at 19:23
  • @phoog Yeah, there's a slightly different term I can't recall offhand. If I do, I'll make an edit. – Michael Hampton Jul 26 '18 at 19:26
  • Well as I suppose you know, for passports, the document is described as "biometric," or sometimes called an "e-passport," neither term being very helpful in identifying the technology for reading the data or in selecting a verb to describe the process of doing so. – phoog Jul 26 '18 at 19:31
  • Well, the chip does have a high quality digital image of your face, well suited for facial recognition, so I guess that could be why they call it biometric. At least in recent passports. – Michael Hampton Jul 26 '18 at 19:35
  • Absolutely, and they can also (and do in some countries' passports) contain fingerprints or other biometric data. My point was that the nature of the data (biometric) says nothing about the technology used to store and retrieve the data (RFID), so the word "biometric" doesn't lend itself to finding a more precise expression than "machine reading." – phoog Jul 26 '18 at 19:40

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