Posted by: Jay | May 4, 2010

Puerto Rico to Revoke Birth Certificates

Puerto Rico to Revoke Validity of all Citizens’ Birth Certificates

The title of this post may seem impossible, but it’s the truth. As of July 2010, all previously issued original P.R. birth certificates will be rendered invalid. This means they cannot be used to obtain a passport or to demonstrate work eligibility in the U.S. The Puerto Rican government will begin issuing a new version of birth certificates that is valid for such purposes starting on July 1st.

The DHS, the DOS, and the Puerto Rican government are making this sweeping change because of the shockingly high rate of identity fraud involving the use of the old birth certificates. In the past, the presentation and retention of original birth certificates was required to complete many types of common transactions in P.R. (such as school enrollment). In fact, this form of ID was often requested even when there was no real reason to do so – just like with SS#s in the U.S. today.

The certificates were stored without adequate protection and became a rich source of revenue for ID thieves. The Department of State estimates that a stolen Puerto Rican birth certificate is used as a “breeder” document (a form of ID used to obtain other identification documents) in about 40% of passports fraud cases. The new type of birth certificate will incorporate security features designed to reduce the risk of ID theft.

What This Means for Employer and Employees

Basically, after July 1st employers will not be able to accept the old version of these birth certificates from new hires born in Puerto Rico. The revamped version will be an acceptable I9 List C document. Puerto Rican citizens seeking employment in the U.S. will need to be among the first wave of applicants to request a new birth certificate from their government.

So far, there isn’t any word from the DHS on whether employers must ask for a new List C document from existing employees after an internal I9 audit shows an older P.R. birth certificate was used. Unless such a directive is given, employers shouldn’t single out these employees for special scrutiny without consulting an HR immigration law specialist.

As always, employers need to keep up with the latest instructions for completing the I9. With Universal Onboarding, each new hire’s I9 is automatically routed to the hiring manager (or I9 administrator) so it can be reviewed along with the appropriate documents and completed according to the most recent DHS rules.

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