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Documents needed to renew a drivers license in WI when waiting for ROC with expired I-797 letter

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My wife has been waiting almost two years for her removal of conditions application to be processed. She needs to renew her Wisconsin driver's license by Tuesday and according to the Wisconsin DMV website non citizens must provide one of the following documents as proof of legal residence for a non REAL ID compliant license:

 

Quote

Non-commercial driver license, instruction permit or ID card – Proof of legal status for non-REAL ID compliant cards

Everything from the REAL ID list above or:

  • Valid foreign passport with appropriate immigration documents, which shall include or be accompanied by federal form I-94, arrival and departure record. NOTE: The appropriate immigration documents determine legal presence, not the passport itself
  • Valid Temporary Resident ID card (federal form I-688)
  • Valid refugee travel document (federal form I-571)
  • Notice of Action (federal form I-797). Document must provide conclusive proof of legal presence and be accompanied by other supporting documentation
  • TWIC Card – Transportation Worker Identification Credential (issued by the Department of Homeland Security/Transportation Security Administration)
  • Reception and placement program assurance form (refugee version) with an I-94 arrival and departure record
  • Documentary proof specified in s.343.14(2)(es), Wis. Stats, that is approved by the federal authority:
    1. Valid foreign passport containing a valid non-immigrant visa & I-94, arrival and departure record
    2. Valid foreign passport containing an expired non-immigrant visa & I-94, arrival and departure record
    3. Pending or approved application for asylum in the United States
    4. Valid re-entry into the United States in refugee status I-327 or I-571
    5. Pending or approved application for temporary protected status in the United States
    6. Approved deferred action status (including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program) or a pending application for adjustment of status to legal permanent resident status or conditional resident status

 

Looking at the requirements for a REAL ID compliant license my wife doesn't have any of the required documents. Here is the list of required documents:

 

Quote

Non-commercial driver license, instruction permit or ID card – Proof of legal status for REAL ID compliant cards

  • Valid U.S. passport or passport card
  • U.S. State or local government issued Certificate of Birth. (Wisconsin will not accept Puerto Rican birth certificates issued before July 1, 2010, in line with Puerto Rico’s law as of October 30, 2010. More information available at pr.gov)
  • If you obtained U.S citizenship through the adoption process (Child Citizenship Act of 2000), and you do not possess a valid U.S. passport, you may provide evidence of U.S. citizenship with the following documents (please note that a Certification of Birth Facts is not an acceptable document):
    • Proof of finalized adoption and,
    • Foreign passport from your country of birth (valid or expired), which may include the temporary I-551 stamp or,
    • I-551 permanent resident card from the time that you entered the U.S.
  • Consular report of birth abroad
  • Valid I-551, permanent resident card (issued by the Department of Homeland Security/U.S. citizenship and immigration services). Non-expiring I-551 (issued 1977-1989) cards are acceptable
  • U.S. Certificate of Naturalization (federal form N-550)
  • Certificate of U.S. Citizenship (federal form N-560)
  • Unexpired foreign passport with a valid unexpired U.S. visa affixed accompanied by the approved I-94 form documenting the applicants most recent admittance into the U.S. (Note: If you recently entered the U.S. and were not issued a paper I-94 form, visit cbp.gov/I94 to print your electronic I-94 before applying for immigration or public benefits, such as a driver license, identification card or a Social Security number.)
  • Unexpired Employment Authorization Document (federal form I-688B or I-766) which is successfully verified through the DHS/USCIS Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements Program (SAVE)

 

So the only documents my wife has from either one of those lists is an expired green card (which makes it invalid according to the list) and an expired I-797 letter. Notice in regards to the I-797 letter it says the following:

 

Quote

Notice of Action (federal form I-797). Document must provide conclusive proof of legal presence and be accompanied by other supporting documentation

 

A few questions about that. Is an expired I-797 valid for this purpose? What do they mean by "must provide conclusive proof of legal presence"? Also what supporting documentation must accompany it? Are they referring to her expired green card? As of right now we would be okay simply getting a non REAL ID compliant license and then deal with the REAL ID part of it later. However I am unsure we even have the correct documentation to do that.

 

I remember when we went to get my wife's learners permit the nightmare we went through. She hadn't received her green card yet so following the advice from someone I spoke to on the phone at USCIS we attempted to use the visa stamp in her passport as proof of legal residence. The DMV would not accept it and demanded an I-94 instead which my wife was never issued. I called CBP and USCIS which both told me my wife could not be issued an I-94 and that her visa stamp should serve as proof of legal residence for the purposes of obtaining a driver's license. Still the DMV refused to accept it. I argued back and forth with the DMV employee for over two hours and finally got him to call his higher ups in Madison. They confirmed for him that my wife's visa stamp was acceptable. I tell you that to illustrate how uneducated the DMV employees are on this issue and to show the issues we might face renewing my wife's license.

 

What do you guys think? Will they accept an expired I-797? What else should we bring? If they don't accept the I-797 what does my wife need to prove legal residence and how does she get it in a timely manner? Beyond that what does my wife need to get a REAL ID compliant license? Also we plan on visiting my wife's family in the Philippines next year (hopefully) and while I would hope she has her new green card by then if she doesn't what does she need to reenter the US when we return? Bonus question kind of unrelated to this. Should my wife be applying for naturalization now or should she wait until ROC is completed?


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Make an info pass appointment for a 551 stamp in the passport. only thing that is available to you right now.

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Filed: Citizen (apr) Country: Australia
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Also pertinent:  I know a lot of states are scaring the wits out of people by saying you have to have a REAL ID to travel or board a plane.  That just is NOT true.  If you have a valid US passport, you can use that.  If you have a green card, you can use that.  If you have a foreign passport, you can use that.  If you have an expired green card and an I-797, you can use that combo for travel.

 

So focus on getting your spouse a valid driver's license (get the I-551 stamp as mentioned above), but don't panic about trying to get a REAL ID yet.

 

So many US citizens don't have passports - so that is why the REAL ID hype is so big.  Quite frankly, it's a huge money grab for states.

 

Sukie in NY


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6 hours ago, Bob in Boston said:

Make an info pass appointment for a 551 stamp in the passport. only thing that is available to you right now.

 

2 hours ago, Sukie said:

Also pertinent:  I know a lot of states are scaring the wits out of people by saying you have to have a REAL ID to travel or board a plane.  That just is NOT true.  If you have a valid US passport, you can use that.  If you have a green card, you can use that.  If you have a foreign passport, you can use that.  If you have an expired green card and an I-797, you can use that combo for travel.

 

So focus on getting your spouse a valid driver's license (get the I-551 stamp as mentioned above), but don't panic about trying to get a REAL ID yet.

 

So many US citizens don't have passports - so that is why the REAL ID hype is so big.  Quite frankly, it's a huge money grab for states.

 

Sukie in NY

The problem is my wife's license expires on Tuesday and she needs it to drive to work. I did not realize proof of residence was needed for non citizens to renew their license. For me it as simple as showing my old driver's license. If I had known this was going to be an issue we would have addressed it a long time ago. Is there any chance at all they will accept an expired I-797 or is there anything else we can use? We are going to have serious issues if my wife is without a driver's license for any period of time. In addition to that I believe the closest infopass location is Chicago and we live in central Wisconsin (about 4 hours away). Not only that but with the crazy mayor of Chicago banning people from Wisconsin who knows if we would even be allowed in Chicago. If we can get past all those hurdles how long does it take to get an appointment and does it matter if my wife's Philippines passport expires early next year?

 

I did find an immigration attorney's website that gives advice on how to handle this issue and they provide a form letter to provide along with your expired I-797 and a printout of your case status from the USCIS website to prove your legal residence. The letter has all the relevant federal statutes quoted stating that anyone who is waiting for removal of conditions has a legal status regardless of whether the I-797 is expired or not. The letter also states it might be a violation of federal or state law to discriminate based on immigration status. I guess if nothing else we will try that approach and see what happens.


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Filed: Lift. Cond. (pnd) Country: Iran
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A stamp in your passport is likely your only option for the proof you need.

 

There is a at least one USCIS field office in Wisconsin. 

Milwaukee (MIL)
Location Address:
310 East Knapp Street
Milwaukee, WI 
 
There is a USCIS field office locator base on your zip code on this web page: https://www.uscis.gov/about-us/find-a-uscis-office/field-offices
 
Same parts of Wisconsin is served by Minnesota USCIS field office 
Saint Paul (SPM)
Location Address:
250 Marquette Avenue
Suite 710
Minneapolis, MN 55401
 
 

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7 minutes ago, da95826 said:

A stamp in your passport is likely your only option for the proof you need.

 

There is a at least one USCIS field office in Wisconsin. 

Milwaukee (MIL)
Location Address:
310 East Knapp Street
Milwaukee, WI 
 
There is a USCIS field office locator base on your zip code on this web page: https://www.uscis.gov/about-us/find-a-uscis-office/field-offices
 
Same parts of Wisconsin is served by Minnesota USCIS field office 
Saint Paul (SPM)
Location Address:
250 Marquette Avenue
Suite 710
Minneapolis, MN 55401
 
 

When we were last at the Milwaukee office for biometrics they had signs posted saying they no longer do infopass appointments at that location. I don't know if that has changed since then. How long does it take to get an appointment if we are able to find a reasonable location? We are really gonna be in a bad situation if my wife can't renew her license in a timely manner. USCIS really shouldn't make it so difficult to prove legal status in this type of sutuation.


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Filed: Lift. Cond. (pnd) Country: Iran
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Contact USCIS customer service and request an appointment for the i551 stamp for her passport indicate you needed it immediately for a drives license application.

 

In most sates proof of residency is as simple if providing two pieces of mail addressed to the applicant from a bank, school, or utility with her home address on them. A passport will due for a picture ID (provide marriage certificate if name change).

 

Your wife's latest W2 is also a must as it proves both SS# and address.

 

Good luck to you.

Edited by da95826

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2 minutes ago, da95826 said:

Contact USCIS customer service and request an appointment for the i551 stamp for her passport indicate you needed it immediately for a drives license application.

 

In most sates proof of residency is as simple if providing two pieces of mail addressed to the applicant from a bank, school, or utility with her home address on them. A passport will due for a picture ID (provide marriage certificate if name change).

 

Good luck to you.

She doesn't need proof of residence. She needs proof of legal immigration status as is required for non US citizens per the Wisconsin DMV website. If she was a US citizen simply providing her old drivers license would be sufficient and it could even be done online in most cases. That is why I didn't think this was a big deal until I started looking into it.


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Filed: Lift. Cond. (pnd) Country: Iran
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I understand, to get a real ID driver's license you need all that stuff, if she already has one or does not want one then you don't need it. 

 

I don't know the status of USCIS field offices, most have been have remain open for emergency services for immigration issues even when closed for internews and other services. No offices take infopass appointments anymore they just make appointments for i551 stamp for those who demonstrate a need.  

 

I think your only choice is to call USCIS and make an appointment at whatever field office serves you best and is open.

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It appears the online infopass appointment website has been shut down and appointments can only be made by phone. Guess I'll call tomorrow. I don't know what were gonna do if it takes weeks for my wife to renew her license.


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1 minute ago, da95826 said:

I understand, to get a real ID driver's license you need all that stuff, if she already has one or does not want one then you don't need it. 

That's not true. If you read what I quoted above from the Wisconsin DMV website it clearly says an I-797 (or other documentation that my wife doesn't have) is required for a non REAL ID licence. For a REAL ID complaint license it appears she would actually need a valid green card so that isn't even an option for her until she gets a new valid green card.


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Called USCIS this morning. After spending a half hour trying to get past their automated system I finally got someone on the phone. They told me someone would call me back within 5 business days to schedule an appointment for a passport stamp. I asked if that could be expedited. She said yes but I would need documentation proving the urgent need. She said someone would call me back to schedule the appointment and my wife has to be present when they call. That is almost impossible because of our work schedules. I was told they would only attempt to call twice if I dont answer and there is no way for me to call them back. They did say we could schedule the appointment in Milwaukee though. My next call was to my congressman's office to see if they can help. They are gonna call me back today. Hopefully I can figure out how to take care if this.


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Filed: IR-1/CR-1 Visa Country: India
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Some states are extending the licenses although it is expiring on the date stamped on the license. NJ DMV has been swarmed with thousands of people trying to renew their licenses but cannot because each day they have a cap (number of persons they will serve during the day). Maybe WI has extended their dates. Did you check that out? 


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The "expired" I-797 should work. The expiration date is really only meant for travel, but you are facing the same issue with DMV you faced earlier.
As you had the same issue with the I-551 stamp, you might as well just try the I-797.

In order for your wife to get the license, DMV needs to enter the data into the SAVE system. The documents they list on the website all require a different code to be entered into the system. as long as they don't look at the document and just enter the data you will be fine. If they start to think for themselves and see an expiration you are in for a long discussion again.

The best solution would be for them to contact Madison immediately. Virginia got so fed up with it that they now require the local DMV's to sent the application to the state capital for approval.

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