The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on Oct. 25 began issuing redesigned forms I-766, the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) that establishes both identity and authorization to work in the United States for purposes of I-9 registration.

The EAD is thus an "A List" document that completes the I-9 verification-to-work process in and of itself, much as a U.S. passport or a "green card" would do.

The new I-766 contains a variety of redesigned security features, such as a holographic image on the front of the card and optically variable ink along the top, and it also changes the position and naming protocol of the Alien Registration Number. The number now appears under the notation "USCIS#" rather than next to the notation "A#."

What does this mean for companies conducting I-9 verifications for new hires after Oct. 25? Nothing dramatic. The old I-766s are still good through the individual expiration dates on the forms. On top of that, companies are not allowed under law to specify which documents they desire to see. Once an I-766 is presented with a valid expiration date, the verification is complete—no questions need be asked. Nor can employers require current employees to reverify their identities and authorizations until currently on-file verification documents, such as the EAD, have expired.

The USCIS also redesigned its Form I-560, Certificate of Citizenship, but this form is no longer accepted as an A, B, or C List document for I-9 purposes—retracted from the list in November 2007.

The I-9 is an important step in the employment process, and the USCIS has been busily conducting audits of thousands of American businesses to verify compliance. It's a good idea to get a copy of Personnel Concepts' I-9 Compliance Kit and study up on requirements and regulations.