Driver’s License Renewal in Conjunction with Nonimmigrant Status Renewal

Getting a Driver’s License, just like a Green Card, is a very complicated process for foreign nationals living in the United States. Unfortunately, it can be just as complicated to renew them.

In every single state, the process for Driver’s License Renewal is different. We are going to cover a general overview here, but please contact Valvo & Associates to discuss your specific situation. In most states, a valid Driver’s License for Green Card holders will expire at the same time as their Green Card.

If your Green Card is set to expire, you need to submit a Form I-90, the application to renew (or replace) an existing Green Card. Filing a Form I-90 is simply submitting an application to renew your Green Card, and then you have to wait for the United States Citizenship and Immigation Services office to make a decision on the application and issue the new Green Card.

Here’s where the trouble with renewing your Driver’s License comes in. In most states, your Driver’s License expires at the same time as your Green Card. In order to renew your Driver’s License, you generally need to have your Green Card renewed already. This means that you have to be approved for your Green Card renewal before you can renew your Driver’s License – even though the deadline to renew them is often the same day.

In the past, this meant the process took a good deal of forethought. You would have to submit your Form I-90 at least six months in advance to be able to renew your Driver’s License by the deadline. This was a consistent problem for people who are bad at planning in advance, who often lost their ability to drive as a result.

In January 2021, a new USCIS policy made this issue much easier. Now, anyone who submits a Form I-90 to renew their existing Green Card will receive a receipt notice in the mail within two weeks. This receipt notice, known as Form I-797, extends the validity of your Green Card for an entire year while you wait to hear back about your Green Card renewal.

The I-797, in conjunction with your expired Green Card, federally extends the expiration date, meaning your Green Card can be used like normal for employment authorization, legal identification, and, yes, renewing your Driver’s License. This is a major change from past years, when some states would accept receipts of a submitted Form I-90 for Driver’s License renewal and some states would only accept a completed, renewed Green Card.

If you want to renew your Driver’s License, submit your Form I-90 in advance! After you submit, you should receive an I-797 in the mail that will allow you to renew your Driver’s License as you wait for your Green Card to be renewed. For help with your Green Card or renewing your Driver’s License, contact Valvo & Associates today! We are your go-to legal immigration experts, with the ability to represent clients federally in all fifty states.

By Brandon Valvo