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Filed: IR-1/CR-1 Visa Country: Brazil
Timeline

An update for anyone who is trying or will try to get a California driver's license after entry to the USA, with new information we were not aware of before, even after two years of following posts on this site and being an active contributor.  

 

My husband had proper documentation to prove his LPR status as a recent CR-1 visa arrival (visa stamped at POE, equivalent to an I-551 for one year from entry as stated on the visa), but the California DMV we went to would not give him a driving permit after he passed the written test because his legal status in the US had to be reviewed by DMV's Investigative Unit, something called "Secondary Review."   Basically this means that he was subject to another bureaucratic process, with a wait of up to three months for an interview at another location somewhere in the state:

 

"Secondary Review

You’ll have another opportunity to prove your identity and California residency using a wider variety of documents, and you’ll be required to attend an extra appointment with a DMV at a different office than the field office you originally visited. Secondary Review is conducted by staff members of the DMV’s Investigations Division, who will review your identity and residency documents. Your interview make take up to one hour.

The Secondary Review process can take anywhere from two weeks to three months- it all depends on volume and the region you’re applying in."

When my husband called the Investigative Unit phone number in Sacramento yesterday, to initiate the secondary review, they said it was to verify his legal status in the US and they gave us a different number to call but no one answered it, so we figured we could try again next week and wait and wait some more.  Then his green card arrived in the mail yesterday afternoon (thank God), so today we went back to our local DMV and after more than an hour with a customer service person and many back-and-forths to supervisors, he finally got his driving permit and can start practicing, and set an appointment for his driving road test (two months out).

I wanted to post this here for others who may assume that the CR-1 or IR-1 visa, stamped at POE, is all you need for a driver's license in California.  It may be, but is subject to "secondary review," which can take weeks or months and requires an interview that could be many miles away.  Fortunately for my husband, his green card arrived and that makes life so much easier.  I hope everyone is doing well on your immigration journeys!

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28 minutes ago, carmel34 said:

but the California DMV we went to would not give him a driving permit after he passed the written tests!

The whole CA DMV is a mess. Something similar happened to a family friend that entered with an IR-2. The initial employee thought it was a B-1/B-2 when the IR-2 is clearly an Immigrant Visa. The second employee told her to come back with the green card. This was the Oakland Coliseum office. Luckily, her GC arrived about a week and a half later.

Edited by HRQX

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Filed: IR-1/CR-1 Visa Country: Brazil
Timeline

The DMV nearest to our house is in Fairfield and it is really exceptional for efficiency, short lines, moving people through quickly, friendly, etc.  Compared to other CA DMVs I have visited it is by far the best.  That said, they struggle to understand basic DHS document policies like the new electronic visas for immigrants.  They kept asking for an I-94 when those are not issued to immigrants on a CR-1/IR-1 and others.  They didn't understand that the stamped CR-1 visa is an I551 for one year from date of US entry, equivalent to a green card.  Their binders of plastic sheets show old documents, they are not trained on current documents issued by DOS or DHS.  It's sad really, given the high number of immigrants in California.  They say they are immigrant-friendly but this is not the case.  Without a green card they only know how to give you a run around.  Even supervisors do not know what current policies are.  The whole "secondary review" process is a joke and is completely unnecessary.  My husband was fortunate in that his green card showed up right when he needed it so he didn't have to go through the secondary review but really?  He's not feeling too welcome here because of this.  Brazil is way ahead in their processes with newer computer systems and online filing of documents, which is ironic given that we're living in the technology center of the world!

Edited by carmel34

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Happened to me too when I tried to renew my DL after my conditional greencard expired and I only had the extension letter. Like the moron I am, I renewed via mail and forgot to send a copy of the extension letter. So my application ended up at the legal precense unit and I didn't know that until I called DMV a month later to ask when my new DL would arrive. So then I called the legal presence, explained the situation and it was sorted in minutes, they approved my DL without ever seeing my extension letter and the DL is now valid for several years (again without having seen any proof of my status past my conditional greencard).

 

Never even knew they had a legal presence unit. You live, you learn. 


K-1: 12-22-2015 - 09-07-2016 (260 days)

AP: 12-20-2016 - 04-07-2017 (108 days)

EAD: 01-18-2017 - 05-30-2017 (132 days)

AOS: 12-20-2016 - 07-26-2017 (217 days)

ROC: 04-22-2019 - 04-22-2020 (365 days)

 

Naturalization (Los Angeles County Field Office):

04-19-2020 - Earliest filing date

05-01-2020 - N-400 filed online

05-01-2020 - Received date

05-04-2020 - NOA1 online

05-08-2020 - NOA1 hardcopy

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2 hours ago, USS_Voyager said:

Didn’t they mess up the Real ID for hundreds of thousands of people too and had to redo it over?

Are you referring to the following news story? https://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2019/04/11/already-have-your-california-real-id-you-may-have-a-problem/ "The DMV will be sending letters to individuals who submitted one proof of residency to acquire their Real ID card, informing them to send the letter back to DMV to serve as their proof of second residency" This happened to my USC sons (aged 10 and 14) earlier this year with their Real ID-compliant state ID, which was odd. When they submitted the applications in Jan 2019, 2 proofs of residency (school documents and medical documents) were provided. They signed the letters they received and sent them back to the DMV.

Edited by HRQX

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Filed: AOS (apr) Country: Canada
Timeline

I went through Secondary Review for the AB 60 license.  Those licenses are not handed out like candy at all.  My timeline of Secondary review is in the linked thread.  Just got the plastic license in the mail today.    I can't recommend Lake Isabella DMV enough.  So courteous, friendly and zero wait times with or without appointment.

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Filed: AOS (pnd) Country: Mongolia
Timeline
10 hours ago, carmel34 said:

An update for anyone who is trying or will try to get a California driver's license after entry to the USA, with new information we were not aware of before, even after two years of following posts on this site and being an active contributor.  

 

My husband had proper documentation to prove his LPR status as a recent CR-1 visa arrival (visa stamped at POE, equivalent to an I-551 for one year from entry as stated on the visa), but the California DMV we went to would not give him a driving permit after he passed the written test because his legal status in the US had to be reviewed by DMV's Investigative Unit, something called "Secondary Review."   Basically this means that he was subject to another bureaucratic process, with a wait of up to three months for an interview at another location somewhere in the state:

 

"Secondary Review

You’ll have another opportunity to prove your identity and California residency using a wider variety of documents, and you’ll be required to attend an extra appointment with a DMV at a different office than the field office you originally visited. Secondary Review is conducted by staff members of the DMV’s Investigations Division, who will review your identity and residency documents. Your interview make take up to one hour.

The Secondary Review process can take anywhere from two weeks to three months- it all depends on volume and the region you’re applying in."

When my husband called the Investigative Unit phone number in Sacramento yesterday, to initiate the secondary review, they said it was to verify his legal status in the US and they gave us a different number to call but no one answered it, so we figured we could try again next week and wait and wait some more.  Then his green card arrived in the mail yesterday afternoon (thank God), so today we went back to our local DMV and after more than an hour with a customer service person and many back-and-forths to supervisors, he finally got his driving permit and can start practicing, and set an appointment for his driving road test (two months out).

I wanted to post this here for others who may assume that the CR-1 or IR-1 visa, stamped at POE, is all you need for a driver's license in California.  It may be, but is subject to "secondary review," which can take weeks or months and requires an interview that could be many miles away.  Fortunately for my husband, his green card arrived and that makes life so much easier.  I hope everyone is doing well on your immigration journeys!

California is a joke.. they make LEGAL immigrants go through all sorts of hoops but they make everything so much easier for ILLEGAL immigrants SMH

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18 hours ago, Lana&Ivy said:

I went through Secondary Review for the AB 60 license.  Those licenses are not handed out like candy at all.  My timeline of Secondary review is in the linked thread.

That is a further example that it's smooth sailing for illegal immigrants and a bureaucratic headache for legal immigrants (e.g. K-1, IR-1, etc.). Those with illegal Entry Without Inspection (EWI) in particular. EWI individuals either bring their passports or apply for them later at a consulate in LA, SF, etc. Some EWI individuals blended in with the recent caravans. Once in California, they establish residence with medical documents, bank documents (BofA, Wells Fargo, etc), and in a few cities with a city ID: https://www.oaklandcityid.com/ EWI individuals rarely face the DMV's Secondary Review Process; getting a DL is a piece of cake for them.

11 hours ago, MongolianPanda said:

California is a joke.. they make LEGAL immigrants go through all sorts of hoops but they make everything so much easier for ILLEGAL immigrants SMH

allelujah-can-i-get-an-amen.jpg

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Filed: AOS (pnd) Country: Japan
Timeline
23 hours ago, carmel34 said:

An update for anyone who is trying or will try to get a California driver's license after entry to the USA, with new information we were not aware of before, even after two years of following posts on this site and being an active contributor.  

 

My husband had proper documentation to prove his LPR status as a recent CR-1 visa arrival (visa stamped at POE, equivalent to an I-551 for one year from entry as stated on the visa), but the California DMV we went to would not give him a driving permit after he passed the written test because his legal status in the US had to be reviewed by DMV's Investigative Unit, something called "Secondary Review."   Basically this means that he was subject to another bureaucratic process, with a wait of up to three months for an interview at another location somewhere in the state:

 

"Secondary Review

You’ll have another opportunity to prove your identity and California residency using a wider variety of documents, and you’ll be required to attend an extra appointment with a DMV at a different office than the field office you originally visited. Secondary Review is conducted by staff members of the DMV’s Investigations Division, who will review your identity and residency documents. Your interview make take up to one hour.

The Secondary Review process can take anywhere from two weeks to three months- it all depends on volume and the region you’re applying in."

When my husband called the Investigative Unit phone number in Sacramento yesterday, to initiate the secondary review, they said it was to verify his legal status in the US and they gave us a different number to call but no one answered it, so we figured we could try again next week and wait and wait some more.  Then his green card arrived in the mail yesterday afternoon (thank God), so today we went back to our local DMV and after more than an hour with a customer service person and many back-and-forths to supervisors, he finally got his driving permit and can start practicing, and set an appointment for his driving road test (two months out).

I wanted to post this here for others who may assume that the CR-1 or IR-1 visa, stamped at POE, is all you need for a driver's license in California.  It may be, but is subject to "secondary review," which can take weeks or months and requires an interview that could be many miles away.  Fortunately for my husband, his green card arrived and that makes life so much easier.  I hope everyone is doing well on your immigration journeys!

Mine took 1 month, it actually was received even quicker but I had to call and give them a nudge after a month. There was no real any other step. 
I can’t remember the reason behind it. But from what I remember, my immigration status needed a check Similar to save check that sso did cause it did appear there when I checked.

 

basically I saw that check was back within the week, then I said eh I’ll wait but I decided to call them when it past a month and the lady at the I believe it’s called legal status investigation unit or something said “oh let me see, oh it is already done we forgot to send it back 🤷🏻‍♀️) I had the card within 2 weeks after that.

 

but don’t call your dmv, call and check with the Sacramento office cause all dmv says is “it may take up to blah blah” (kinda feels like talking to nvc again)


Check your case status at the new website : https://myaccount.uscis.dhs.gov

USPS INFORMED DELIVERY https://informeddelivery.usps.com/box/pages/intro/start.action

 

How to talk to a live person at USCIShttps://goo.gl/54z5bZ

What to do after NOA2 Approval? How to contact NVCClick here for info - https://goo.gl/KggThF

If you cannot get NVC on the phone try this - https://secureforms.travel.state.gov/ask-nvc.php

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That's happening to me too with the difference that after passing the written test they gave me a driving permit, then I called the number they gave me for secondary review and the man who attended me said that there's no secondary review on my case and I can schedule a driving test...

That will be on Nov. 26th, let's see what happens! I'll keep you posted.

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Filed: IR-1/CR-1 Visa Country: Brazil
Timeline

A brief update on my original post for everyone who is going through this, to illustrate the craziness of the CA DMV process and how they treat legal immigrants.  My husband got his CA driving permit last Saturday, we thought everything was good to go because we went back to the local DMV with his new green card, got his permit, and he has started to learn how to drive, added to insurance, etc.  Then yesterday a letter arrived from DMV in Sacramento, the legal presence unit, stating that his "application was incomplete," and requesting a photocopy front and back of his green card.  So like good law-abiding people we are sending them what they want today.  The letter said they had no documents to prove legal residence, when they had scanned his new green card, into their electronic system, just a week ago at the local DMV office when they approved and gave him his driver's permit which he has been using to learn how to drive.  So the journey continues...

Edited by carmel34

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So just to keep you guys posted, in case someone is in the same situation, here's the story:

- Sep. 3rd I received the EAD

- Sep. 4th I went to DMV with all te papers, paid the fee and at the end of the process they told me that "the system" couldn't read my EAD.

  The lady told me to come back the next week and try again 'cause the manual verification could take up to 8 months.

  Unfortunately I believed her and every week since then I tried to see if they can scan my EAD.

- Nov 5th I tried again and since it was not working I decided to go for manual verification and secondary review, all papers sent to Sacramento DMV office.

  Same day I passed the written test, they took me a picture and gave me a temporary DL.

  They handled me a few sheets one of which stating: "to request to have your documents reviewd and your identity verified, please call toll free  at 1-855-421-       1001".

  So I asked to a clerk if I had to call or not and he told me to call that number after 6 weeks.

-Nov.6th I called that number and the man checked my datas and told me: "I don't see any secondary review request on you,  if they gave you a temporary DL you can schedule a behind the wheel driving test and get your license"

-Nov.26th I passed the driving test and they gave me an Interim DL.

-Dec. 6th I received my driver license by mail (Real ID)

 

I have to say that all the people at Eureka,CA DMV office are nice, can't complaint about it... but they have no idea of what they are doing.

Maybe one day I'll show up there and tell them my story....

Hope this is helpful to someone

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