USCIS Employment Authorization Document and Certificate of Citizenship Redesign

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced in late October 2011 a redesigned Certificate of Citizenship (Form N-560) and a new design for the Employment Authorization Document (EAD). The USCIS made the changes to the documents to help fight immigration fraud and to ensure increased security for the US and for document holders. New technology in the EAD and the newly designed certificate of citizenship will make it harder for these documents to be counterfeited or tampered with and will make it easier for authorities to authenticate the documents.

Director Alejandro Mayorkas of the USCIS stated that the redesign of the documents was part of a larger USCIS effort to strengthen immigration and to prevent immigration fraud in all forms. The USCIS began issuing the newly redesigned EADs on October 25, 2011 and the new Certificates of Citizenship on October 30, 2011. In the first year, the UCSIS estimates that one million applicants will receive the newly designed EADs and certificates of citizenship. Director Alejandro Mayorkas called the newly redesigned documents as the most secure documents created by the USCIS.

The Customs Enforcement Forensic Document Laboratory worked with the USCIS to ensure that the new EAD cards and Certificate of Citizenship documents will have features, including new technology and tactile features, that will make the documents more secure and easier to authenticate. The Certificate of Citizenship, for example, uses a new printing process that makes the certificates harder to tamper with. As a result of the redesign, both the EAD and the Certificate of Citizenship will look different as well as being more secure.

The way of applying for both the Certificate of Citizenship and the EAD will remain the same. However, applicants who apply for a Certificate of Citizenship of EAD after October 2011 will be issued with the newly redesigned documents. Current EADs will remain valid until their expiration date. When EAD holders apply for a renewal, they will automatically be issued a new card with the new security features. Certificate of Citizenship are valid permanently, and this includes the older designs of the documents. The USCIS has stated that there is no need for applicants and document holders to apply for a new Certificate of Citizenship or EAD just to take advantage of the new features. The old versions of both documents will continue to be honored as long as they are still valid.

This is not the first time that the USCIS has issued newly designed immigration documents to incorporate new security features. The USCIS issued a new green card in 2010 to help prevent fraud and the USCIS has also launched a newly secure Certificate of Naturalization (Form N-550). It is expected that the USCIS will continue to update and enhance immigration documents with new security features as needed to help combat crime and immigration fraud.