Form I-9 Document Alert: USCIS Issuing New Version of EAD (Form I-766) Card

On Friday, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it is now issuing employment and travel authorization on a single card for certain foreign national applicants filing an Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status in the U.S. The new dual-purpose card looks almost identical to the current Employment Authorization Document (EAD), except for one line of text near the bottom which reads, “Serves as I-512 Advance Parole.” The back of the card retains the machine-readable zone (MRZ) which was introduced on EADs back in May of 2010. How does this affect the Form I-9 Process? Fortunately, the introduction of this new card should have minimal impact on employers in their I-9 process. As mentioned above, the card is almost indistinguishable from the typical I-766, which is an acceptable List A document evidencing both identity and work authorization. This fact was also confirmed by USCIS in both their press release and Q&A sheet. It’s also important to remember that employers are not required to become “document experts” in their I-9 duties, but rather simply need to ensure that the documents reasonably appear to be genuine and relate to the person presenting them. For those employers which have adopted more stringent document review standards, it would be wise to note this change and keep it with other document guides, such as the back of the I-9 Handbook (M-274) and the Guide to Selected US Travel and Identity Documents (M-396). While we’re on the subject of the EAD, employers should also remember that this document is evidence of “temporary” work authorization which means it expires at some point in time. Before that expiration occurs, employers need to reverify the employee’s continuing eligibility to the work in the U.S. (using Section 3 of the form or by completing a new form) in order to avoid penalties and other more serious issues.  Most employers storing pen and paper I-9s will utilize a ticker or calendar system for reminders, while those with electronic I-9 systems enjoy automatic email reminders, dashboard prompts, and reverification reports on demand. The EAD is also noteworthy for employers participating in E-Verify, since it is one of three documents which must be photocopied and retained by the employer during the I-9 process as part of the E-Verify photo matching process (the I-551 green card and US Passport are the other two documents). For more information on photo matching, please see our prior alerts which are tagged here.