This week, US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) announced a policy change that allows employers to accept a receipt notice for a naturalization application along with an expired Permanent Resident Card (a/k/a Green Card) as evidence of employment authorization and identity.
According to USCIS, “Presentation of the Form N-400 receipt notice along with the expired [Permanent Resident Card] is valid, unexpired evidence of LPR status, as well as identity and employment authorization under List A of Employment Eligibility Verification (Form I-9), if presented before the expiration of the 24-month extension period provided in the notice.” This policy change comes as a result of a listening session with its customers and furthers USCIS’ efforts to streamline immigration processing, and to encourage eligible Lawful Permanent Residents to naturalize.
Practically speaking, this policy change means that Lawful Permanent Residents who apply to naturalize do not need to replace an expiring Permanent Resident Card. Before this policy change, a naturalization applicant whose card expired was required to file an application and pay USCIS a filing fee to replace a card that he or she would simply surrender at a naturalization ceremony. Sometimes, USCIS would adjudicate the naturalization application before processing the application to replace the Permanent Resident Card. When this happened, the new US citizen never received a new card. Instead, he or she received a letter from USCIS denying the replacement application because the applicant is no longer a Lawful Permanent Resident.
USCIS will implement this policy by changing the language on the naturalization receipt notice to include language extending the validity of an expired Permanent Resident Card. However, please note that this policy applies to all naturalization applicants with expired Permanent Resident Cards. The naturalization receipt need not contain the extension language to benefit from this policy change.
Employers who encounter employees who present expired green cards and naturalization receipt notices as evidence of employment authorization should seek advice from competent counsel.