Question regarding California driver's license

Canadian Expats and travelers in the USA can communicate with each other here!

Moderator: visaplace.com

john1968New Member
Topic author
Posts: 2
Joined: 15 Nov 2008

Question regarding California driver's license

Post Thu Dec 04, 2008 11:18 am

I have called the California DMV asking for information to verify that they do indeed accept either a Canadian Passport or Canadian birth certificate. The main office in Sacramento confirmed that I can apply for a CA license with either a Canadian passport or Canadian birth certificate with no SSN. The lady mentioned that if I use a passport an I94 may be required to process the driver's license application depending on what border I cross. Has anyone heard of an I94 being a requirement in a Canadian Passport? I stated to her that Canadian Citizens who are non-immigrants and cross from Canada into the US are not issued I94s.
StevenCanuckAbroad VIP
Posts: 3699
Topics: 6
Joined: 28 Sep 2007
Location: Calgary

Post Thu Dec 04, 2008 11:29 am

You need one to get a DL. It's a bit misleading on their website because they say a Canadian passport is acceptable as proof, but then later on it says you must show you are able to stay for at least another 60 days in order to get a licence, and the only way to do that is with an I-94 if you're in a non-immigrant classification. Basically if you're there as a visitor in B-1 or B-2 it's pointless because the licence would only be valid for a few months.

They seem to be iffy about the SSN: http://dmv.ca.gov/dl/dl_info.htm#SSN

One of my relatives tried to get one without an SSN, basically they require the SSN if you can get one. If you were there, say as TD or H-4 and couldn't get an SSN, then you can get a DL but you need proof you can't get one. My relative said it seems to depend on the office, because she tried another office and they didn't seem to care, but by then she had it anyway.
Steve.
john1968New Member
Topic author
Posts: 2
Joined: 15 Nov 2008

Post Thu Dec 04, 2008 11:39 am

Would it be possible to apply with just my birth certificate?
StevenCanuckAbroad VIP
Posts: 3699
Topics: 6
Joined: 28 Sep 2007
Location: Calgary

Post Thu Dec 04, 2008 11:47 am

You can use it lieu of your passport, but that doesn't help you because the bit you're missing is proof of how long you can stay in the US, which means you need an I-94.

I suppose at the moment you could use a DL and a birth certificate to cross at a land border and ask for an I-94, bit unusual to do that though.
Steve.
jgoveasJunior Member
Posts: 23
Joined: 27 Feb 2009

Re: Question regarding California driver's license

Post Thu Apr 02, 2009 12:30 pm

Not sure if anyone will know this, but we were issued Drivers Licenses (after passing the tests) in Cali last year. Homeland apparently looks at the applications and saw that we were on a TN so the licenses expire on June 13th (the day our TN expires). We've since received an extension and are wondering who to contact to get new/renewed licenses. The DMV seems clueless about this.
axolotlCanuckAbroad VIP
Posts: 303
Joined: 28 Feb 2009
Location: New York City

Re: Question regarding California driver's license

Post Thu Apr 02, 2009 12:34 pm

jgoveas wrote:Not sure if anyone will know this, but we were issued Drivers Licenses (after passing the tests) in Cali last year. Homeland apparently looks at the applications and saw that we were on a TN so the licenses expire on June 13th (the day our TN expires). We've since received an extension and are wondering who to contact to get new/renewed licenses. The DMV seems clueless about this.


I don't know exactly how it works in CA but in most states you just go back to the DMV before your license expires, show them your passport and new I-94, along with whatever other ID and residency information they require, and they issue you a new DL.
StevenCanuckAbroad VIP
Posts: 3699
Topics: 6
Joined: 28 Sep 2007
Location: Calgary

Re: Question regarding California driver's license

Post Thu Apr 02, 2009 3:39 pm

Or after but your DL will have expired.

This situation varies from State to State, some are better than others, California is middling, in that they give you back your foreign licence, it's just no longer valid in California.

Florida is the best one as they will grant a Canadian citizen a one-year DL simply with proof of Canadian citizenship. Texas is a bit lax about identity requirements so it's easier to get one there as well as they accept far more pieces of ID as proof of it.

Now there are three-year TN-1s this shouldn't be the problem it was in the past, but generally States issue DLs that are co-terminus with your I-94.
Steve.
axolotlCanuckAbroad VIP
Posts: 303
Joined: 28 Feb 2009
Location: New York City

Re: Question regarding California driver's license

Post Mon Apr 06, 2009 1:25 pm

Steven wrote:Now there are three-year TN-1s this shouldn't be the problem it was in the past, but generally States issue DLs that are co-terminus with your I-94.


Which makes no sense to me. You're driving up to the border using a license that's about to expire (and could potentially expire if for some reason the application is denied). Plus you have the added hassle of having to renew your DL immediately when you get back to prevent the thing from expiring if you're right on the wire. Whoever came up with that rule is an idiot.

Thankfully NJ is a little friendlier to their "alien residents" -- they set the expiry date for 90 days after the date on your I-94. NY doesn't tie the expiry of the DL to the I-94 date (their licenses are valid for 4 years) but they show the I-94 date in big, red letters on the front of the DL and it is so prominent that out-of-state law enforcement often think that this date is the DL expiry date.
StevenCanuckAbroad VIP
Posts: 3699
Topics: 6
Joined: 28 Sep 2007
Location: Calgary

Re: Question regarding California driver's license

Post Tue Apr 07, 2009 10:32 am

It comes from the DHS guidelines to States under the Real ID Act. The problem is that it's guidance, it's not actually law. This is what the big fuss in NY was about the DLs and they were going on about issuing them to "illegal aliens", well that was how it was presented in the press but basically what they were on about was issuing DLs to people who had status but the DL would remain valid after the status expired and they wanted to use the "alternative" provisions of the Real ID Act, which in no way means the State is giving proper ID to people who have them.

A lot of States simply amended their laws to basically copy the guidance chapter and verse, only big States like California, Texas and Florida actually bothered to think it through before they did it. New Mexico is the only State to use the "alternative" provisions of the Real ID Act, i.e. they have a different type of DL that can be issued without proof of legal status, but you can't use it as ID, only as a DL.

This is especially a problem for Canadians because in certain situations you don't get an I-94 like non-immigrant aliens from other countries, so you have nothing to show the DMV. This happened because the guidance simply rambles on vaguely about things States can use to show proof of date of departure.

Florida was sensible about it and created a specific separate provision for Canadian citizens, however States have to be very careful what they do in case they violate the Real ID Act. Until it's tested in court though no-one really knows what is acceptable or not.

My advice is that if you're entering the US for any significant length of time, always ask for an I-94 even if it's not required because sooner or later someone in officialdom will ask to see it.

I bet money that USCIS will amend the I-9 form to specify that only DLs that are issued in compliance with the Real ID Act can be used as proof of identification for employment purposes, they've only just recently amended it to narrow down what types of ID can be used.
Steve.
calicanJunior Member
Posts: 20
Joined: 18 Dec 2008

Re: Question regarding California driver's license

Post Thu May 03, 2012 7:47 am

What if your are moving to California on a IR-1, but don't have your SSN yet? The CBP officer said it could take 3-4 weeks to get one sent by the SSA. Will the DMV issue a Driving License if you have a Canadian license? Are Canadians also required to take a theory test or are the licenses simply exchanged?
If not, can I still drive with the Canadian license and my imported (from Canada) car with QC plates pending the issuance of the SSN?

Did you enjoy this post? Share it!

 
  • Related topics
    Replies
    Views
    Last post

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: bradso18 and 5 guests