There has recently been a dramatic shift in the procedures used for the renewal of Pennsylvania driver’s licenses of Foreign Nationals with pending, or in some cases even approved, petitions.
This new policy has resulted in significant delays in the issuance and or renewals of drivers licenses at a majority of Department of Motor Vehicle Offices. The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is now requiring that the DMV receive confirmation of a Foreign National’s immigration status from USCIS, before the DMV may issue, or renew that individual’s driver’s license.In the past, our office would typically provide clients with a letter confirming a pending petition and the expected dates of approval, to assist in the renewal/issuance of their Pennsylvania driver’s licenses. However, this letter now appears by itself, to be insufficient in establishing our client’s eligibility for the issuance/renewal of their driver’s licenses. The DMV is now fully relying on information accessed in the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) database. The SAVE database is an inter-governmental database which aids benefit-granting agencies, institutions, licensing bureaus, and other governmental entities in determining an individual’s immigration status. The information obtained by the DMV through SAVE is not routinely updated, and therefore may not accurately reflect an individuals recently filed/pending, or even approved petition. When this occurs, the DMV representative will most likely deny the Foreign National’s request, and directly forward a confirmation request to the DMV headquarters in Harrisburg for verification from USCIS. This process appears to be taking 2-3 weeks or longer, and is causing significant delays in the renewal/issuance of driver’s licenses.
To avoid any unnecessary and added delay to this process, our office is now recommending that clients with recently filed, or pending petitions consider the use of Premium Processing. For a government filing fee of $1,000 (made payable to the “Department of Homeland Security”) our office can “upgrade” a pending petition to Premium Processing. This upgrade will provide clients with a decision from USCIS within 15 calendar days. Please note that even once a petition has been approved, the DMV may very well still request verification through SAVE. As such, we encourage clients considering an upgrade of their petitions, to continue to attempt to have their licenses issued/renewed at their respective DMV office, using the letter from our office. Once the pending petition has been approved within 15 calendar days, the SAVE system will hopefully have been updated following the initial renewal/issuance attempts; reflecting a clients valid immigration status, and therefore their eligibility for a driver’s license.
If you have further questions on how this policy can impact your eligibility for a drivers license, or to request a letter to assist in the issuance/renewal of your drivers license, please schedule a consultation or contact your Klasko Law attorney for more information.