VIRGINIA DEPARTMENT OF MOTOR VEHICLES
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ON VIRGINIA'S LEGAL PRESENCE LAW
What is the new legal presence law?
This new law requires all applicants for
an original Virginia driver's license or for a DMV-issued photo ID card
to show proof that they are legally in the United States. Legal presence
means that a person is either a U.S. citizen or is legal authorized
to be in the United States. Legal presence may be proved using documents
such as a U.S. birth certificate or U.S. passport. It also can be proved
using a variety of other documents, such as a Certificate of Citizenship,
Resident Alien Card, Employment Authorization Card, or a valid foreign
passport with a visa, I-94 or I-94W. Later this year, DMV will publish
a complete list of documents that will be accepted as proof of legal
Driver's licenses and DMV-issued photo ID cards
are widely used to verify a person's identity and may be required for
everything from opening a bank account to cashing a check. Verifying
an individual's legal presence helps ensure the integrity of the documents
issued by DMV. Legislation requiring DMV to verify driver's license
and photo ID card applicants' legal presence was passed by the 2003
Virginia General Assembly.
When does it go into effect?
January 1, 2004.
Why are you publicizing this new law so early?
DMV wants to ensure that the law is implemented equitably, fairly and
in a cost-effective manner. We want to minimize the negative impact
that it might have on our customers. By publicizing the law early, we
want to make sure that we receive input during the implementation process
and that all customers are aware of the new requirements.
DMV has established a ten-member advisory Legal
Presence Panel to help us make policy decisions affecting implementation
of this legislation. DMV's Commissioner chairs the Panel. The Panel's
recommendations will be reviewed by the Secretary of Transportation
and the Attorney General's office.
Who is affected by the legal presence law?
- All applicants applying for an original
Virginia driver's license. If you have never held a Virginia driver's
license, you will be asked to show proof of your legal presence in
- Applicants for a DMV-issued photo identification
card. Anytime that you apply for a DMV-issued photo identification
card, you must show proof of legal presence. You must show proof even
if you have previously held a photo ID card and you showed proof of
legal presence when you applied for that card.
- Drivers reinstating their driver's license
because of a license suspension, revocation or cancellation. If
your driver's license was suspended, revoked or canceled, you must
show proof of legal presence to reinstate your driving privilege.
Although your driver's license may have been suspended, revoked or
canceled before January 1, 2004, you will still be required show proof
of legal presence to reinstate your driving privilege.
- Most drivers who have allowed their license
to expire, must show proof of legal presence.
If I already have a driver's license, will
I have to prove legal presence when I renew?
No. If you currently hold a valid driver's license, you will not have
to show proof of legal presence when you renew it. However, if your
license expires before you renew, you will be required to prove legal
presence before you can renew.
Also, if your driver's license is suspended,
and you have never shown proof of legal presence, you must show proof
of legal presence to have your driving privileges reinstated. If your
driver's license is revoked or canceled, you may have to show proof
of legal presence to reinstate your driving privileges even if you have
previously shown proof.
If I am out of the country and my driver's
license is about to expire, can I renew it?
If you qualify to renew using an alternative service, you will be able
to renew your driver's license using the Internet or mail. Your renewal
notice will state if you qualify to use one of these services. You cannot
use an alternate service if your driver's license has been suspended,
revoked, canceled or has expired.
If you are a member of the U.S. military, you
will be granted an extension of your Virginia driver's license while
you are out of the country.
If I lose my driver's license and need a replacement,
will I need to prove legal presence?
No. As long as you request a duplicate driver's license while your license
or card is still valid, you will not be required to show proof of legal
What documents can I use to prove my legal
Many people will be able to prove their citizenship using a U.S. birth
certificate or U.S. passport. DMV will identify additional documents
that can be used as proof of legal presence, such as a certificate of
citizenship or a certificate of naturalization, Resident Alien Card,
Employment Authorization Card, or a valid foreign passport with a visa,
I-94 or I-94W. Later this year, DMV will publish a complete list of
documents that will be accepted as proof of legal presence.
Can I show a photocopy of the document I'm
using to prove legal presence?
No. You must show the original document. DMV does not accept any photocopied
or faxed documents.
I am only in the U.S. for a limited amount
of time. Can I get a driver's license or ID card?
If you can meet all the requirements for a driver's license or an ID
card and show that you are legally present in the U.S., DMV will issue
you a driver's license or ID card. Your driver's license or ID card
will be valid only for the amount of time that you are allowed to remain
in the U.S. The expiration date on your driver's license or ID card
will be the same as the expiration date shown on the document that you
use to prove your legal presence. Your driver's license will also show
that it has been issued for a limited amount of time.
If you are authorized to be in the U.S. for an
indefinite amount of time, your driver's license or ID card will be
valid for one year.
Even if your stay in the U.S. will be very short,
DMV will issue you a driver's license or ID card for the amount of time
that you are authorized to remain in the U.S. Your driver's license
will cost $4 per year. You will be charged $4 even if your driver's
license is issued for less than one year.
If my I-94 expires, will my driver's license
still be valid?
No. Your driver's license or ID card will be valid only for the amount
of time that you are authorized to remain in the U.S. DMV will base
your driver's license expiration date on the expiration date shown on
the document that you use to prove legal presence. This may be the I-94
or another document acceptable for proof of legal presence. The agency
will publish a list of acceptable documents later this year.
Additionally, if DMV receives notification from
the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, law enforcement
or another agency that your authorized stay in the U.S. has been terminated,
DMV will cancel your driver's license or ID card. The agency will also
place an indicator on your record prohibiting you from renewing your
driver's license. DMV will take these actions only if the Bureau of
Citizenship and Immigration Services verifies in writing that your authorized
stay in the U.S. has been terminated.
How will you verify my citizenship or other
legal status in the U.S.?
DMV employees will receive extensive training about the acceptable documents
and document verification. Although the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration
Services supports a computer-based system (SAVE) for verifying immigration
status, the DMV Legal Presence Panel recommended that the agency not
use this system until it becomes more reliable. DMV will record the
document that you use to show proof of legal presence in our computer
Will DMV have special offices for issuing
No. DMV's Legal Presence Panel recommended that the agency conduct driver's
licensing or ID card issuance transactions at all of their 73 customer
service centers (CSCs). Our electronic queuing system will direct you
to an employee trained in issuing driver's licenses and ID cards. Additional
employees will be available to verify customers' proof of legal presence
If I meet all the requirements, will I receive
my driver's license right away or will it be mailed to me?
DMV will issue your driver's license or ID card at the time of your
visit if you meet all the requirements. Both DMV and the Legal Presence
Panel want to minimize any inconvenience to our customers.
Can I give DMV my input about the implementation
of this law?
Yes, definitely. You're welcome to send an email to email@example.com
or you may send a letter to DMV, P. O. Box 27412, Richmond, VA 23269,
Attention: Correspondence Office.
Can I learn more about this law as it is being
Yes. DMV will send out news releases about implementation of the legal
presence legislation throughout the summer and fall. Additionally, you
can visit the DMV web site at www.dmvNOW.com.
All news releases will be posted here, as well as the list of acceptable
documents once it is finalized, and minutes from the Legal Presence
Panel's meetings. Information will be posted in both English and Spanish.
DMV will also conduct information sessions around
the state. We need volunteers who are willing to learn about the legal
presence requirements and assist people in their businesses and communities.
DMV will provide all necessary training and materials for you to use.
If you are interested in volunteering, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
or write to us at DMV, P. O. Box 27412, Richmond, VA 23269.
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