Jordan Ramis pc. Attorneys at law
New U.S. Passport Card Qualifies As I-9 Document
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This article is intended to inform the reader of general legal principles applicable to the subject area. It is not intended to provide legal advice regarding specific problems or circumstances. Readers should consult with competent counsel with regard to specific situations.

Summer 2008

On Friday, August 08, 2008, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services ("USCIS") department of the Department of Homeland Security ("DHS") announced that effective immediately the new U.S. passport card can be accepted as a List A document in the Employment Eligibility Verification form (I-9) process. The U.S. Department of State ("DOS") and the USCIS began producing the new passport card on July 14, 2008, and have processed over 350,000 applications for the new card since February 1, 2008. As of July 22, 2008, over 7,600 of the new passport cards have been issued and the DOS and the USCIS expect to issue the remainder of the 350,000 approved applications by September 30, 2008.

The USCIS states that the new passport card facilitates entry and expedites document processing at U.S. land and sea ports-of-entry when U.S. citizens arrive from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda. The new passport card may not be used to travel by air, but otherwise carries the rights and privileges of the U.S. passport book. The same standards as used for issuance of the U.S. passport book apply to the new passport card.

The new passport card will utilize a vicinity-read radio frequency identification chip. This will allow DHS's U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers to access photographs and other biographical information stored in secure government databases before the traveler reaches the inspection booth. It is expected that this will speed the entry process at land and sea ports-of-entry. The new passport card will be valid for ten years for an adult and five years for children 15 and younger.

The USCIS has not revised the Employment Eligibility Verification form (I-9) to include this new passport card on the reverse side of the I-9 form. Therefore, employers should keep a copy of this announcement, or the USCIS announcement, with the employer's I-9 instructions.

Employers should provide information and training to company agents responsible for completing the I-9 process on behalf of the employer. Remember, an employer may not specify the type or types of documents that it will accept for employment identity and eligibility purposes. Employers and their agents should become familiar with this new I-9 document as soon as reasonably possible. An example of the new passport card can be seen below.