Governor Extends Validity of Puerto Rico Birth Certificates until October 30th; I-9 Guidance to be Revised Again

Yesterday, Puerto Rico Governor Luis G. Fortuño extended the validity of birth certificates issued before July 1, 2010 to American citizens born in Puerto Rico for 30 additional days, until October 30, 2010. As previously reported, the Puerto Rico Birth Certificate law mandated the issuance of newer, more secure birth certificates starting July 1, 2010, as well as the invalidation of previously issued birth certificates to combat fraud and identify theft. As originally enacted, the law called for the immediate invalidation of all pre-July 1, 2010 birth certificates. Subsequently, the requirement was amended to allow a 3 month phase-in period from July 1, 2010 to September 30, 2010. Yesterday’s announcement now extends this phase-in period for an additional 30 days. How does this affect the I-9 Process? On September 9, 2010, the USCIS posted guidance on how the Puerto Rico birth certificate law would affect the I-9 process  in light of these soon-to-be invalid documents (see our alert here). Although the USCIS has not yet updated this information based on this new “October 30” deadline, the following revised guidance is likely to be issued soon. [Editor’s note: this information has been derived from the USCIS web site, except for the new dates which are in red].   1. New Hires

  • All certified copies of Puerto Rico birth certificates are acceptable for Form I-9 purposes through October 30, 2010.
  • Beginning Oct. 31, 2010, only certified copies of Puerto Rico birth certificates issued on or after July 1, 2010, are acceptable for Form I-9 purposes.
  • Beginning Oct. 31, 2010, if an employee presents for List C a birth certificate issued by the Vital Statistics Office of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the employer must look at the date the certified copy of the birth certificate was issued to ensure that it is still valid.

2. Existing Employees Employers must not re-verify the employment eligibility of existing employees who presented a certified copy of a Puerto Rico birth certificate for Form I-9 purposes and whose employment eligibility was verified on Form I-9 prior to Oct. 31, 2010. 3. Federal Contractors Employers who are awarded a federal contract that contains the FAR E-Verify clause may have situations where they need to complete a new I-9 or update an existing I-9 before submitting the information to E-Verify.

  • If the employer completes a new I-9, the same rule for new hires mentioned above applies: beginning October 31, 2010, employers may only accept certified copies of Puerto Rico birth certificates that were issued on or after July 1, 2010. Prior to October 31, 2010, employers with FAR contracts may accept all certified copies of Puerto Rico birth certificates when completing new I-9s.
  • If the employer simply updates an existing I-9 form, the employer must not ask an employee to present a new certified copy of a Puerto Rico birth certificate.

4. Document Retention Although the new law prohibits Puerto Rico employers from keeping original certified copies of birth certificates, employers may still keep photocopies of these documents (as long as it does so regardless of national origin or citizenship status). To read more information about birth certificates issued in Puerto Rico, please visit the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration web site here.