Tips on Texas Driver's License from an Esteemed AILA colleague.
On behalf of our colleague Candace Cowen, some great information regarding TX driver’s license issuance:
To: all members of the Texas Chapter of AILA
Re: Solutions to Driver’s Licenses Problems, or at least a means to try!
BACKGROUND STORY: One of our H-1B clients, who had entered in 2005 and been on extension since, was denied a Driver’s license because she did not have a current I-94 with a “Stamp from USCIS". Of course, she called us. I tried calling the DPS, using their website. First day, I could not get through, automatic disconnect. I started looking for other ways, and it was ridiculous. I called their main number, and of course they said to call the driver’s license number. I tried some more, finally got through, left it on hold for about ½ hour, finally talked to a driver’s license person. She was very nice, sympathetic, but has zero info. I asked if a supervisor at local DPS could get through to DPS Austin for help, she said yes, they have Immigration technical advisors [or something like that] but because they could not see the documents that the officer at the local office was reviewing, they usually would leave it to the local. That person checked, but said that she could not give out the name or telephone number of the General Counsel or of the Attorneys. More stuff happened, but no help. We found the Temporary Visitor Issuance Guide [see below], sort of hidden on their website. NOTE: I strongly recommend that you go get the Guide and print it out, it is about 14 pages long. It is dated Feb., 2009. Later I learned that it is under review, so once DPS learns that this email has gone out to all of you, they may take it down. But it is, I think, the guide that the local DPS officers are using. On page one it says: “I-94 HOLDERS- The Form I-94 must be properly stamped by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) to be accepted. Please contact the USCIS to receive an update if it is not stamped."
I finally got through to an Attorney, despite the DPS effort to keep them away for us nasty folks in the public arena. But of course, he was super nice. I explained my case and complained about the errors [I found a few] in their Guide. He said it was being amended soon. He seemed to be fairly conversant with the Immigration process and forms. He very courteously offered and in fact did, help me out by calling the Supervisor at the local DPS office where I was sending our client with a letter and full details. When our client went in and they entered her DL number, the officer told her that all they would need was the last Extension. In fact, after she waited her turn, they did, appropriately, check her original visa, the original I-94 [stamped, strangesly, by some group called Customs and Border Protection], her last Extension and current letter of employment, they very quickly issued her temporary new Driver’s License and the new one will come by mail.
FOR ALL OF YOU, HERE IS ALL YOU WILL NEED, AT LEAST FOR NOW:
FIRST, REVIEW THE DPA GUIDE FOR YOUR CLIENT’S STATUS:
Be certain that your client has ALL of the evidence required by the Guide before they go to the DPS office, OR send them with it all a second time. If they are missing anything, either write a letter for them to take, or be sure that they can explain it. Also, be sure they understand each step of the process, and can point out the evidence to the DPS officer, from the original NIV visa stamp through to their current status.
Texas DPS: TEMPORARY VISITOR ISSUANCE GUIDE:
LAWFUL PRESENCE REQUIREMENTS FOR NON-UNITED STATES CITIZENS
The link for the on-line application for Driver’s License is:
https://txapps.texas.gov/tolapp/txdl/welcome.dl (https://txapps.texas.gov/tolapp/txdl/welcome.dl) Note: this is not very useful for our clients if they are not USC. But OK for Immigration Lawyers to use to renew their own License!
SECOND: IF THE DPS OFFICE WILL NOT GRANT THE DRIVER’S LICENSE AND YOU BELIEVE THAT THEY ARE IN ERROR, CONTACT ONE OF THE DPS “DRIVER’S LICENSE ATTORNEYS"
DRIVERS LICENSE ATTORNEYS: (512) 424-2890 July 2010
Call the Office of General Counsel and ask to speak to “one of the Driver’s License attorneys". The receptionist will put you through to one of them. You will need your client’s name, Driver’s license number [if they have one], and Date of Birth. It is also good to ask your client which DPS Office they want to go to, the closest, and have that DPS address. Brian Riemenschneider is one of the DPS Driver’s Licenses attorneys, and he was very nice and professional. But probably any of them [I have no idea how many there are] will do fine.
BEST: The Driver’s License Attorney can, if you explain your case and they are satisfied that your client is in valid status, call the Supervisor of the DPS Office that your client is planning to visit again, and try to explain the particular situation. It definitely will make it much smoother and easier for your client. SO be nice to the DPS lawyers.
In my opinion, the DPS local Officers are trained, but obviously not well enough, in fact, probably just enough to get them very confused. The DPS Attorneys are learning the law, status and procedures, but obviously, this has been hard for them also. My guess is that they are mostly beginners in this area, but becoming more experienced. But they are trying, and they seem very willing to listen and help if they can. They have advised me that the Temporary Visitor Issuance Guide is in the process of being amended. [Pretty soon they may rival Kurtzban!] I suspect that DPS is sorry that they started all of this, and for sure it is costing the State of Texas a bunch of money to train up all these folks.
THIRD: if not satisfied, contact the boss:
The current GENERAL COUNSEL of the Commission on Public Safety is Mr. Stuart Platt. Same telephone number: (512) 424-2890. 5805 North Lamar, Austin, Texas 78752 . Email is [email protected] (mailto:[email protected]).
The Office of General Counsel advises DPS management on law and policy affecting the agency. DPS attorneys provide counsel on employment and personnel issues, open records, open meetings, criminal law, traffic law, litigation, contracts, administrative rules and general policies and procedures. Attorneys in this office also represent the department in Vehicle Inspection hearings. Please call (512) 424-2890 regarding suggestions or concerns.