REAL ID Info: Non-U.S. Citizens

Who can get a REAL ID?

Any Californian who can prove their current legal presence in the United States (U.S.) with one of the accepted identity documents (original or certified copy) is eligible to receive a REAL ID driver license or identification (DL/ID) card. This includes all U.S. citizens, permanent residents who are not U.S. citizens (Green Card holders), and those with temporary legal status, such as recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) or Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and holders of a valid student or employment visa. For Californians with temporary legal status, their REAL ID will expire depending on their immigration status, and they can receive a new card with a documented extension of their legal status.

The required documents to apply for a REAL ID are listed below, as well as on DMV’s REAL ID checklist.

One Proof of Identity (original or certified copy only)

If you are a lawfully present non-U.S. citizen, acceptable documents include:

  • Unexpired foreign passport with valid U.S. Visa and approved I-94 form
  • Valid, unexpired Permanent Resident Card
  • Valid/expired Permanent Resident Card with Notice of Action (I-797 C) or Approval Notice (I-797)
  • Valid, unexpired Employment Authorization Document (EAD) Card (I-766) or valid/expired EAD Card with Notice of Action (I-797 C)
  • Unexpired foreign passport stamped “Processed for I-551”
  • Documents reflecting TPS benefit eligibility.

Note: If the name of your identity document is different from your current name, you must bring a document with the new name. Check the REAL ID Document Checklist for a full list of acceptable certified legal documents supporting a name change.

One Proof of Social Security Number (full number required)

You must present one document that shows your name and full social security number (SSN) (if eligible). If the document is a social security card, it must be an original. Make sure your document is up to date and accurate to avoid delays. If you need to correct information with the Social Security Administration (SSA), do so before you apply for a REAL ID.

These are acceptable documents:

  • Social Security card (original)
  • W-2 Form
  • Social Security Administration (SSA) 1099 Form
  • Non-SSA-1099 Form
  • Paystub with full SSN

If you need a replacement social security card, you may be able to apply for a replacement online from SSA.

If you are ineligible for an SSN, you may still apply for a REAL ID DL/ID card.

Two Proofs of California Residency

To prove that you live in California, you must present two documents that contain your California physical address. Both documents must show your first and last names and the same address that is listed on the driver license or identification card application.

If you use a PO Box, one document must have both the PO Box and physical (residence) address and one document may only contain the PO Box.

If your name does not appear on any residency documents, you may present a birth certificate, marriage certificate, domestic partner registration certificate, an adoption document or any court document to connect your relationship to a person whose name does appear on the residency documentation. For example, a minor may use a residency document showing their parent or legal guardian’s name, but they must also present a birth certificate proving their relation to the person listed on the residency documents. The name on the residency documents must match the name on the identity document used to show relation.

If the residency document reflects a name that differs from the identity document due to a name change (for example, marriage, divorce, or court order), additional name change documentation will be required as evidence of the name change. For example, a child may use residency documents with the mother’s name differing from the birth certificate by also presenting a marriage certificate and/or dissolution of marriage document showing the mother’s different last name, which is on the residency documents.

The following documents can be used as proof of your California residency:

  • Rental or lease agreement with the signature of the owner/landlord and the tenant/resident
  • Deed or title to residential real property
  • Mortgage bill
  • Home utility bill (including cellular phone)
  • School documents issued by a public or private primary, secondary, or post-secondary institution, college, or university that includes the applicant’s date of birth (If using a foreign school document, it must be sealed by the school and include a photograph of the applicant at the age the record was issued.)
  • Medical documents
  • Employment documents
  • Insurance documents, including medical, dental, vision, life, home, rental or vehicle
  • Tax return (either Internal Revenue Service [IRS] or California Franchise Tax Board [FTB])
  • Change of Address confirmation by the U.S. Postal Service
  • Property tax bill or statement
  • Faith-based document that includes the name and address of the organization
  • Records from any state or national bank, state or federal savings association, trust company, industrial loan company, state or federal credit union, or any institution or entity that has issued a credit card
  • Voter registration confirmation letter or postcard issued by the California Secretary of State or a local California county elections officer
  • Proof of payment of resident tuition at a public institution of higher education in California
  • An original copy of an approved Claim for Homeowners’ Property Tax Exemption (BOE-266) form filed with a local California County Assessor
  • Court documents that list the applicant as a resident of California
  • Letter from a homeless shelter, shelter for abused women, non-profit entity, faith-based organization, employer, or government agency within the U.S. attesting that the applicant resides in California
  • A document issued by a U.S. government agency, meaning the entity, office, or authority governing over a country, state, county, city, municipality, district, agency, department, or any other political subdivision of a country or state
  • California Certificate of Title or registration (vehicle or vessel)
  • A DMV No Fee Identification Card Eligibility Verification (DL 933) form, completed and signed

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients have been authorized to apply for a DL/ID since June 15, 2012, upon presentation of documents issued by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

DACA approvals by DHS are good for two (2) years, the expiration date of the DL/ID issued will depend on the applicant’s immigration status. The DMV website provides a list of acceptable legal presence documents.

There are many other ways to provide proof that an applicant is legally present in the U.S. If the applicant was born in the U.S., they may provide a U.S. birth certificate or passport. An applicant who is an immigrant to the U.S. may provide a U.S. citizen naturalization or citizenship document, or a Permanent Resident Card. Applicants who are non-immigrants, but are authorized to be in the U.S., may present a Temporary Resident Identification card or other temporary resident documentation.

At the point of renewal of a limited term DL/ID card, DMV sends a renewal notice to the applicant’s address on file requesting an updated DHS extension information/document. It is important to note that a REAL ID applicant cannot mail in any documents to renew their license. They must visit a field office and present their documents.

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding DACA

Q: Are DACA and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients eligible to receive a REAL ID?

A: Yes, DACA and TPS recipients are eligible to receive a REAL ID if their legal presence documents are current. The REAL ID will expire depending on their immigration status. When it is time to renew, DMV will send a renewal notice to the address on file requesting an updated DHS extension information/document. The applicant should visit a field office and present their documents if they want to retain their REAL ID.

Q: What happens if my DACA status is rescinded? Is my DL/ID card still valid?

  • DL/ID cards will remain valid until the date of expiration printed on the card.
  • If a DACA recipient no longer maintains DACA status or other form of legal presence and wishes to convert their DL/ID card to an AB 60 DL/ID card, the applicant:
    • Will need to visit a local DMV field office.
    • Is urged to make an appointment by calling DMV at 1-800-777-0133 or going online at dmv.ca.gov.
    • Must cancel any existing DL/ID card by completing the Request for Cancellation or Surrender of Driver License or Identification Card (DL 142) form.
    • If applicable, pay an application fee.  
    • Does not need to complete a knowledge or vision test, unless indicated on the DL record.
    • Does not need to complete a drive test, unless indicated on the DL record.

Temporary Protected Status (TPS)

A TPS beneficiary can obtain a REAL ID compliant DL/ID card. The Secretary of Homeland Security may designate TPS for a foreign country due to conditions in the country that temporarily prevent the country’s nationals from returning safely, or in certain circumstances, where the country is unable to handle the return of its nationals adequately. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services may grant TPS to eligible nationals of certain designated countries (or parts of countries), who are already in the U.S. Eligible individuals without nationality who last habitually resided in the designated country may also be granted TPS.

The validity period of the DL/ID generally depends upon the length of the TPS period. When DHS designates or extends TPS status for a country, it can do so for 6 months or longer through a Federal Register Notice. A TPS beneficiary’s status is tied to a country designated for TPS. Pursuant to Section 202(c)(2)(C)(ii) of the REAL ID Act of 2005, a temporary DL/ID issued to individuals who have a pending or approved application for TPS “shall be valid ONLY during the period of time of the applicant’s authorized stay in the United States or, if there is no definite end to the period of authorized stay, a period of one year.”

Resources:

FFDL 5 Requirements for a California Driver License

FFDL 6 Requirements for a California Identification Card

FFDL 32 Limited Term for Legal Presence

Driver License and Identification Card Residency Requirement

AB 60 Driver License