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I-9 FORMS: New Rules Issued for Use of Puerto Rico Birth Certificates

Due to concerns about the security of birth certificates issued in Puerto Rico, beginning on July 1, 2010, the Vital Statistics Office of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico began issuing new certified copies of birth certificates to U.S. citizens born there. As of October 31, 2010, all certified copies of Puerto Rico birth certificates issued prior to July 1, 2010 will become invalid. The new law does not impact the U.S. citizenship status of persons born in Puerto Rico.

The Department of Homeland Security advises employees filling out a Form I-9, beginning October 31, 2010, that if the birth certificate was not issued on or after July 1, 2010, it cannot be used for purposes of filling out Form I-9. However, employers must not re-verify the employment eligibility of existing employees who previously presented a certified copy of a Puerto Rico birth certificate for Form I-9 purposes prior to October 31, 2010.

For employers awarded a federal contract that contains a Federal Acquisition Regulation (“FAR”) E-Verify clause, the same rules for completing new forms I-9  apply. However, where the FAR E-Verify clause applies, if an employer is updating existing I-9 forms, the employer may not ask an employee to present a new certified copy of a Puerto Rico birth certificate. A certified copy of a birth certificate issued in Puerto Rico prior to July 1, 2010, was valid and acceptable at the time it was presented and should not be “updated” with a new birth certificate.