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    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    New Puerto Rico Birth Certificates & the Impact on I-9s

    New Puerto Rico Birth Certificates on July 1, 2010 and the Impact on Form I-9

    Form I-9 - by bfancher - April 22, 2010

    In December 2009, the government of Puerto Rico passed new sweeping legislation that, effective July 1, 2010, invalidates all Puerto Rican birth certificates issued before July 1, 2010. A common reaction to this news is to ask the obvious. Why the drastic change? For an answer, we looked to the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration (PRFAA) fact sheet, which provides an overview of the rationale behind the new legislation. In brief, it appears that the goal of this mandate is to reduce fraud and identity theft.

    So how does the new statute impact the I-9 process? At the time of this post, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has yet to officially release published instructions to employers concerning this matter. However, Tracker has learned on good authority that according to the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Service ‚€“ Verification Branch the following guidance is expected to be included in the next revision of the DHS I-9 Handbook for Employers (M-274):

    Beginning July 1, 2010, all certified Puerto Rico birth certificates issued before July 1, 2010 will be invalid. The statute also prohibits, as of January 1, 2010, public or private entities from retaining [original Puerto Rican] birth certificates. This means that as of July 1, 2010, certified Puerto Rico birth certificates issued prior to that date will be invalid and unacceptable for Form I-9 purposes.

    There is a limited exception to this rule. The Vital Statistics Office of Puerto Rico will issue certified copies of Puerto Rico birth certificates between June 17, 2010 and June 30, 2010, to those citizens who request them. These certificates will be valid for 15 days and may be accepted for Form I-9 purposes during the 15-day validity period, even if the end of the validity period falls after July 1, 2010. These certificates will not contain an expiration date, so employers will need to calculate the 15-day validity period from the date the certificate was issued. For example, a birth certificate issued on June 30, 2010, would be valid until July 15, 2010, and is acceptable as a List C document for Form I-9 purposes until that date.

    After July 1, 2010, the Vital Statistics Office of Puerto Rico will begin issuing a new type of certified birth certificate to citizens from Puerto Rico. The new certificates will be acceptable List C documents for Form I-9 purposes.

    The prohibition on retaining Puerto Rico birth certificates does not prevent employers from retaining photocopies or electronic copies of these certificates during the Form I-9 process, if they choose to do so. The statute only prohibits retention of actual certified birth certificates. Employers who choose to retain copies of employee documentation must do so for all employees, regardless of national origin or citizenship status, to avoid discriminatory practices.

    For further information about E-Verify or Form I-9 employers may call the E-Verify Customer Support at 1-888-464-4218 or send an email to: e-verify@dhs.gov.

    Tracker spoke with a DHS E-Verify Customer Support Representative who confirmed these guidelines, with the caveat that the exact language is subject to change pending approval by the DHS policy review board. The DHS Representative also verified that a receipt showing that the employee has applied for, but not yet received, a new Puerto Rican birth certificate is acceptable for completing Section 2 of a Form I-9 under the ‚€œreceipt rule.‚€
    Last edited by JohnDoe2; 01-12-2012 at 10:11 PM.
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