USCIS Announces Redesign of Green Cards and Employment Authorization Documents

Beginning on May 1, 2017, USCIS will begin issuing a redesigned Permanent Resident card (green card) and Employment Authorization Document (EAD). This initiative is part of the Next Generation Secure Identification Document Project which was created to take a proactive approach against the threat of document tampering and fraud.

The newly designed cards use enhanced graphics and fraud-resistant security features to create cards that are highly secure and more tamper-resistant than the ones currently in use. This is also part of an ongoing effort between USCIS, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to enhance document security and deter counterfeiting.

The redesigned cards will carry several new features including a display of the individual’s photo on both sides, have embedded holographic images, no longer carry the individual’s signature and contain a unique graphic image and color palette (green cards will have the Statue of Liberty and have a predominantly green palette, while the EAD cards will have an image of a bald eagle and a predominantly red palette). Also, the new green cards will no longer have the optical stripe on the back.

USCIS has also clarified that some green cards and EADs issued after May 1, 2017, may still display the existing design format as USCIS will continue using existing card stock until current supplies are depleted. Both the existing and new green cards and EADs will remain valid until the expiration date shown on the card and may be used for I-9 verification and the SAVE program.

USCIS still has not required people with certain green cards (those that were issued long ago with no expiration date to file) to replace them for the more secure cards, though it is encouraging such replacement. Nevertheless, employers must accept those old cards until USCIS one day issues regulations to invalidate them.

Images of the new green card may be found by visiting https://www.uscis.gov/greencard and the new EAD card is on display at https://www.uscis.gov/green-card/green-card-processes-and-procedures/employment-authorization-document.

Employers should also keep in mind that the M-274 Handbook for Employers for Completing Form I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification Form) has not yet been updated to reflect the design of the new cards and that several still valid versions of the green card are not depicted in the M-274. We advise that employers remain cautious when reviewing green cards or EADs to determine employment eligibility and to not rely solely on the cards depicted in the M-274.