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H4 Driving License Renewal, Pending H4 – Experience : AB 60 License

Since USCIS Introduced the New I539A form with Biometrics, many H4 Visa holders , who have filed H4 Extension using the new Biometrics process are waiting for the approvals. If your driving license expires, you may not be able to renew it in some states with pending H4 receipt notice. But, luckily California has a provision called AB 60 Driving License option for  that. One of our readers, anonymous for privacy, was not able to renew with H4 receipt notice first and later was able to apply for AB 60 license. Below is the user’s complete experience. Thanks a lot to the user (Anonymous) for sharing their experience. It helps the community ! If you would like share anything with community, please send email to redbus2us@gmail.com or you can post at User Experiences Section

Background : Not able to renew my Driving License as H4 Holder with H4 Notice, H1B Approval Documents

I went in the morning and completed my application online to renew both my Driver’s License and Real ID. At that time the officer asked if I had all the required documents and he told me a list and I had them all. The list of documents he mentioned was

  • My valid and unexpired passport
  • 2 address proofs in my name and
  • Original SSN card.

I had them all and I was confident I’ll get my renewal. I was given a token no and then went to the window when my no was called. I told the lady at the window that I’m here for my Driver’s License and real id renewal and the first question she asked was do I have any unexpired legal presence document (apparently in the DMV online application there’s a field for US citizen and when you click no they don’t care about your country’s passport!). I told and explained about my current H4 and EAD extension issues and unfortunately I don’t have any unexpired documents to show her at that time but however I do have my spouse’s Approved H1 originals and my H4 notice receipts. She straight away said those are not valid documents for my legal presence and she can’t help me with my renewal. I told her that it was a complete waste of time that I waited more than 2 hrs for this and the officer at the online application room never mentioned anything about any legal presence documents and all that he asked was whether I had an unexpired passport, address proofs and SSN card. I explained that my Driver’s License is expired and asked her for any options left. That’s when she mentioned about the CA state’s Gov. Brown’s Bill about AB-60 License.

What is AB 60 Driving License Program ?

Assembly Bill (AB) 60 from 2013 of California requires the DMV to issue driving license to California residents who cannot submit full satisfactory proof of legal stay/ presence in the US.  

What is AB-60 License Impact on Immigration Status ?

I asked her if having this license will have any impact on my immigration status since she said that this AB-60 license is for those who don’t have all the legally required documents and she blindly said she is not sure about that. She gave me a blue slip with a number and offered me to go back find out about it and come back(don’t have to wait in line) any time the same day if I wanna apply for the AB-60 license.

            That’s when I came back home and posted in Redbus2US about my DMV experience and one Mr. XYZ advised me to go ahead and apply for AB-60 license. I read more about AB-60 online and understood what it is and went back again in the afternoon and I took my husband along with me.

Process at DMV for AB 60 License for H4 Holder  :

This time the lady at the window was very friendly and she saw all the documents that I had and asked if my husband was the H1 petitioner and she said I’m eligible for the AB-60. That’s it after that it was a simple process. Below are the documents and process:

Documents Checklist for AB 60 License in California for H4 Holder

Thumb Impression, Photo Process, Fee for AB 60 License :  

I had to give some thumb prints a couple of times and they took a picture. To my surprise this license had no fee. She said I’ll have to come back after I receive my H4 approval to get my regular DL and Real ID renewed.

Are there any restrictions with AB 60 License ?

She said this AB-60 license cannot be used as a federal id and is only to allow me to drive. She mentioned that you may use it to drive in other states, but suggested to double check with the other US states you travel to be safe, if driving outside of California.

Interim Paper License of  AB 60 in California – Sample

I’ve got the interim license in paper for two months which looks like below and later I received the actual AB 60 Driving License Card AB 60 Driving License Sample California CA

AB 60 Driving License Card Received

Below is the actual AB 60 Driving License Card that I received in mail in about a week. I applied in DMV on June 25th and received it on July 2nd. They mentioned, it can take up to two weeks, I received it on time. The only difference from normal Driving License is the “Federal Limits Apply” annotation on the top that is highlighted in red box.

AB 60 License H4 Visa California Sample

So, folks in California we have a way to at least drive around and not to just sit at home while we await our H4 extensions to be approved!  

Check out Official DMV Website for AB 60 for detail info on how to apply, checklist, etc.

What was your experience with expired H4 and Driving ? Share your experiences of Other states ? CA State AB 60 experiences ?

   

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29 Comments

  1. I am in California. My H4 (and hence my EAD) are both pending renewal following the biometrics process which is underway. Due to some clerical error my previous DL was given an expiry date much later than my H4 expiry date. (Lucky me!) It expired yesterday and I went for renewal today. Another obstacle I faced was that my SSN was issued to me after my previous DL was issued, so when I tried to fill the online form (https://www.dmv.ca.gov/wasapp/dlir/dlirApplication.do), when I entered my DL number and SSN, it said ‘Data does not match our records.’ I tried other options like enter my ITIN (which I had before my SSN), but that too failed. Even when I clicked ‘I do not have SSN’, I got the same error. In short the online process would not go forward. So I just went ahead to the DMV.

    These are the documents I had:
    — DL renewal notice (This is very important)
    — Old DL
    — EAD (‘pink card’) – even if this is expired, this is important.
    — SSN card (which doubles as address proof also)
    — Another address proof with your name on it (I had my house rent renewal agreement)

    Previously I had no idea that the EAD (they call it the ‘pink card’) is very important even if it is expired. If we present this, we don’t need to show our passport, husband’s passport, his DL, his H1, my I-797C, my biometrics receipt etc.

    After verifying my documents they directed me to a kiosk where I could easily complete the online forms with the friendly staff there to help me when I needed. Then they gave me a token number and I had to wait for the next step. At the next counter there was a small vision test and other formalities. I had to pay the fees (the usual $38), wait in another line for my picture taken. They said they’ll mail me a temporary card for 3 months. If I get my fresh EAD by then, I should take it to the DMV so they can give me an actual DL. But if I still don’t have my EAD by then I should still go again and extend this temporary license for another 3 months.

    The entire process took less than 2 hours from start to end. I wasn’t charged a late fee (I was one day late) and the DL was real-complaint too 🙂 And I didn’t have to get AB-60 either.

    Disclaimer: This was my experience today in a particular DMV in California. But depending on the knowledge level of the DMV employee handling your case (and their mood that day) these documents may not suffice. I will update if I think of any additions. A;; the best!

    Reply
    • S,
      Thank you so much for sharing this experience. Very positive experience.
      Did you ask for the temporary card or is it their standard practice to give it for H4 cases ? Just wondering as others did not get positive response like yours.

      Reply
    • Thank you for sharing your experience. May I know the specific DMV you went to. The DMVs we went to did not offer us the above option and wanted to know about specific DMV in case it happen to be close

      Thank you

      Reply
  2. do not go by the comments written by one KARMA who does not seem to have done any research before saying don’t go for AB60.
    I did speak to DMV officers and because you use your old DL and the records show that you are legally present with a pending petition, its not a big problem.

    More here: https://www.avvo.com/legal-answers/does-california-ab-60-driver-license-impact-my-gc–2346546.html

    just get it if you think your approval will take time and you need to drive around (don’t drive with a expired license)

    Reply
  3. Our experience – resident of Michigan. My H1B is extended in Sep 2020 for 3 years. My wife’s H4 (i-539) and EAD is pending. I renewed my driving license in Oct. My wife went for her license renewal. SOS office ( DMV is called Secretary of State office here) created a SAVE case and asked to return after a week. SAVE case was in review state for 6 days, then status changed to returned to Michigan State Dept. My wife visited next week. SOS office said they will renew for 1 year. We were happy with that period since H4 and EAD renewal is taking 7-8 months due to biometrics backlog. Now we are waiting for new license in mail.

    Reply
  4. Hello,

    Mine is slightly different case here, I went to renew my DL with one month validity of EAD and application receipt for renewal of EAD. They took my documents and gave me temp license for 30 days. This happened 4 months ago. For all these months, I was given an extension for temp license valid for 30 days and was told that DHS did not yet release my license. But this month, they cross verified by calling DHS before giving me an temp license. The DHS told them to give me my temp license and that my license was approved and will be dispatched soon.

    This is very confusing to me since, I haven’t received my approval on neither H4 or EAD status. Does this mean I was approved and will arrive with license or am I missing something here.

    Your input will be greatly appreciated!

    Reply
  5. I live in NJ and sharing my experience at Trenton DMV. My I 539 expired on 31st dec and the new one is still pending approval. Mt DL expired on 12/31. I went to DMV on 12/31 for renewal but was told that they need to run a SAVE search to verify the status and it should take upto 2-3 weeks. Gave a a number to check if the decision has been made and then reach out to them. Yesterday the status changed that results have been sent back to DMV. I did not waited for the letter for DMV and took the copy of internet approval to DMV. They verified all the details and Vioilaaa……. here i come out with my DL renewed for 3 years (same as my spouses H1B validity). I would highly recommend to go to Trenton DMV as they hav a large waiting area and multiple counters. Wait is not too long!!
    I hope this helps.

    Reply
  6. Hi All,

    Thanks for all of your posts. Would someone help me on this matter? H-1B is approved, however, my wife’s H-4 and H-4 EAD are being processed at CSC. In this situation, how would my wife renew her driver’s license? We live in Illinois.

    Reply
    • Abhi_CSC,
      This is a very grey area and totally varies by state. Some states claim to do it, many do not and have no option. The only option is to try going to DMV with whatever documents you have and give it a try….Also, do update here after you go to DMV for community benefit.

      Reply
  7. DO NOT APPLY FOR DRIVING LICENSE UNDER AB60. We went to the DMV after reading this post and the officer there advised us NOT to apply because it is recorded as undocumented individual in their system and then this information is shared with ICE. He said this could result in rejection of Uscis application itself because it is counted as a derogatory remark (Read USCIS notice carefully and there is a section which talks about derogatory remark)
    Have patience and DO NOT RENEW LICENSE UNDER AB60. Also, we went to renew the license not for a new one (one of the comments said you can apply under AB60 if renewing. Please DON’T)

    I know the wait tests your patience but that’s what we signed up for. Good luck!

    Reply
    • Karma,
      Thanks for sharing your feedback. Can you share more details on the derogatory remark part, any links from USCIS ? Did you check with your attorney as well ?

      Reply
  8. Did you have to take a written test or behind the wheel test while applying under AB 60?
    What happens when you get your H4 visa approval? Do you have to take those tests again?

    Reply
  9. Just FYI, I was told in a NJ DMV that H1-B’s 240 day rule for DL renewal will extend to H4 while the H1-B extension is still pending. Once H1-B extension is approved, H4 cannot renew the DL until the H4’s approval comes through. So, soon-to-be-expired H4s visa holders out there, please make use of the short window and get your driver license renewed.

    Reply
  10. Hi Kumar or any other friends in this forum,

    I’m a H4 visa holder and right now am waiting for the H4 approval notice froom USCIS, and I will renew my driver license in DMV next week. Do you know if DMV need the original H4 approval notice to renew the driver license, or just the photocopy of H4 approval notice is also fine? Many thanks!

    Reply
      • Hi KK,

        Yes they will ask you for your original H4 approval notice or your valid unexpired EAD card for proof. If you don’t have both but need to renew your license then California state offers AB60 license. After you receive your H4 or EAD you can go and renew your regular DL with those docs.

        Reply
  11. Hey,
    I am here on L2 and my DL is due in a month time. Just submitted RFE for L1 renewal. The officer is correct that we need to have valid legal documents for renewal as I read them in the notice I received. Now I am wondering whether I can still drive with international DL after my current DL expiry and till the time my i9 is renewal is approved. I have valid L2 visa till 2021.

    Reply
    • Venkat,
      It varies by state, you need to check with the state DMV or their website to see, how long you can drive with international DL.

      Reply
  12. I live in LA. I have experienced the same issue. Do not go for Ab-60. They are for people who are undocumented. I suggest drive on Indian license since it is valid in CA. Carry your H4 receipt notice and your spouse’s H1B approval with you, always.

    Reply
    • If you have already had a valid DL in CA and are only renewing your DL and are unable to do it because of this new H4 extension delay, from what I have heard from the DMV officer there is no issue in applying for AB-60 temporarily till we get the original docs of H4 extension. DMV will have all your prior valid documents and you will never be under undocumented list if you have already had a DL or a real id. Also DMV takes your finger prints to verify them.

      If you haven’t had a DL b4 and are applying a new one and don’t have any legal presence docs then yes it becomes an undocumented case. Otherwise from what I understand there’s no prob in going for AB-60, especially for ppl who don’t have Indian driving license and don’t wanna carry the original Immigration docs around in the car.

      Reply
      • That is not correct. DO NOT APPLY UNDER AB60 either new or renewal. It’s not for H4 individuals, that rule is for undocumented individuals. If you apply under AB60, you will be treated as undocumented in the system and that information is shared with ICE. Be patient…

        Reply
        • Agree. We went today to DMV to get AB60 since the H4 extension is pending for more than 6 months now. The lady at DMV office (indian lady :)) told us that if you are in the green card process then she strongly advised not to get AB60 license and wait for the extension to be approved. So we came back home. 🙁

          Reply

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