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Verifying Lawful Presence for Your Driver’s License

There is nothing fun about going to the DMV to renew or apply for your driver’s license, especially when you get to the end of the line only to be sent home because you forgot to bring the right documentation. To avoid any delays, this article will give you the overall process and provide you with a list of required documentation for your specific non-immigrant or immigrant status when it is time to renew or apply for your Texas driver’s license.

The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is the state agency that grants driver’s licenses. All drivers’ licenses applicants are required by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) to provide proof of lawful presence. The Texas DPS requires all documentation to show the applicant’s name and date of birth. If an applicant needs to validate a name change, he/she must provide additional documentation such as a marriage license, divorce decree, or court order.

Below is a table describing the acceptable documents for certain types of applicant attempting to verify lawful presence.[1]

The Texas DPS must verify the applicable lawful presence documentation through the US Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) Program. Generally, verification through SAVE is instantaneous, but when it is not, receipt of the driver’s license may be delayed for up to 30 days. The SAVE Program has stages of verification that will issue the applicant instruction letters on how to proceed with the transaction. The SAVE program works in two-parts: it verifies the applicant’s lawful presence, as well as determines the validity period of the applicant’s driver’s license. Therefore, it is important to note that an applicant who is not a US citizen, US national, lawful permanent resident, refugee, or asylee, may be issued a limited term driver’s license, which will expire with the applicant’s lawful presence as determined by DHS.

Texas will issue short term extensions based on receipt notices for timely filed extensions and I-485 receipt notices, with SAVE verification. This includes short term extension for F-1 students in a period of “cap gap”, non-immigrants with timely filed petitions for extension of stay or change of status, and applicants with pending adjustment of status prior to the issuance of an EAD card.

In addition to lawful presence, applicants must also meet other requirements to obtain a Texas driver’s license.[2] The Texas DMV recommends that applicants file at least 30 days before their license expires; however, most driver licenses can be renewed up to two years before and after the expiration date.

[1] For the entire list of acceptable documents, please view the requirements here: