What Is Legal Presence?
The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is permitted to issue a driver license (DL) or identification card (ID) to an applicant who submits satisfactory proof that the applicant’s presence in the United States (U.S.) is authorized under federal law. There are many ways to provide proof that an applicant is legally present in the U.S. If the applicant was born in the U.S., they may provide a U.S. birth certificate or passport. An applicant who is an immigrant to the U.S. may provide a U.S. citizen naturalization or citizenship document, or a Permanent Resident Card. Applicants who are non-immigrants, but are authorized to be in the U.S. may present a Temporary Resident Identification card or other temporary resident documentation.
For a complete list of acceptable birth date and legal presence (BD/LP) documents, see www.dmv.ca.gov.
In all cases, a document with your name and birth date has been issued to you and proves your legal presence in the U.S. Certain documents issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a component of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), state how long the bearer may legally be present in the U.S.
You must present a document with your name and birth date that proves your legal presence in the U.S. at a DMV office when you apply for your first DL/ID card. DMV calls this document your BD/LP document.
The following information will help explain the BD/LP process.
The Application Process
DMV will not let you start a DL/ID card application unless you present your social security number (SSN) and your valid BD/LP document. If your BD/LP document indicates you are authorized to work in the U.S., you must have an SSN before you apply for your DL/ID card. The name and birth date on your SSN card must match the name and birth date on your BD/LP document. If your BD/LP document indicates you are not authorized to work in the U.S., an SSN is not required to start your application.
You may start your DL/ID card application if you have an SSN and your BD/LP document expires more than 30 days from the day you apply. However, if your BD/LP document expires less than 60 days from the day you apply, DMV will let you take all the tests, but you will not receive your photo DL/ID card until you provide a BD/LP document which is valid for 60 days or more from the day you applied for your DL/ID card.
DMV will mail your photo DL/ID card after all tests and requirements have been met and USCIS has verified your legal presence status.
Your BD/LP Document Will Be Verified
When you start your DL/ID card application, DMV electronically verifies your BD/LP document information with USCIS. If your BD/LP document cannot be verified electronically, DMV makes a photocopy of the document and sends it to USCIS for verification (secondary verification).
If a secondary BD/LP document verification is necessary, DMV will issue you a temporary DL after you pass all the required tests. If the verification takes longer than 75 days, DMV will send you a letter telling you what is needed to complete the verification process and how to complete your application.
When Will my DL/ID Card Expire?
If you are a first-time DL or ID applicant and your BD/LP document expires in:
- Less than five years from the date you applied for your DL (less than six years for your ID card), your photo DL/ID card will be considered a “limited term (LT)” DL.
- More than five years from the date you applied for your DL (more than six years for your ID card), your photo DL/ID card will be considered full term.
Driver License or Identification Card Extension
If your limited term DL/ID card expires and you need an extension, you must provide a BD/LP document that expires 60 or more days from the day you apply.
SSA: Social Security Administration—federal agency responsible for issuing SSNs and SSN cards.
DHS: Department of Homeland Security—works with federal, state, and local governments to coordinate the organization of multiple agencies and programs into a single, integrated agency which is focused on protecting the American people and their homeland.
USCIS: United States Citizenship and Immigration Services—issues immigration and citizenship. For information regarding these services, contact the USCIS National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283.