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 Lawful Presence Frequently Asked Questions

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Q:  What is the lawful presence law?
The law requires anyone applying for a Maryland driver's license, identification card or a learner's permit to prove that he or she is in the United States lawfully and meets all of the other requirements (Maryland resident, certificate of driving school completion for a driver's license, etc.)

Q:  Why did Maryland pass the lawful status law?
The federal REAL ID Act of 2005 and its associated regulations have a January 1, 2010 deadline for material compliance of the initial 18-benchmark standards.  The law and regulations specifies that states must verify an applicant's lawful status in the United States.  Licenses and identification cards from states that are not in compliance will not be accepted by federal agencies for official purposes such as boarding airplanes and entering federal buildings.

Q:  When does the law take effect?
The law takes effect June 1, 2009.

Q:  Can an individual obtain a learner's permit, driver's license, or identification (ID) card if he/she cannot provide documentation that proves lawful presence?
After June 1, 2009, the individual will not be eligible for either a Maryland driver's license, identification card, or learner's permit without proof of lawful presence.

Q:  Will Maryland honor out-of-country appointments that have already been scheduled?
All appointments through May, 30, 2009 will be honored.

Q:  What do I need to bring with me to get my license or identification card renewed after June 1, 2009?
If you have already provided a verified SSN to the MVA, no additional documentation will be needed to renew your driver's license or reissue your ID card after June 1st.  If you have not provided the MVA with a verified SSN you must bring documentation of your SSN to the MVA in order to renew.  If you are not eligible for a SSN, you must provide satisfactory evidence that you are not eligible for a SSN but that you have lawful status in the United States.

Q:  How do I know whether or not my SSN has been verified with the MVA?
If you do not have a verified SSN on file, you will receive notification in the mail from the MVA.

Q:  Can individuals who already have a Maryland driver's license, identification card, or learner's permit, and cannot provide proof that they are in the U.S. legally, renew their licenses and identification cards?
All Maryland driver's license, permit and identification card holders prior to April 19, 2009, can renew them until June 30, 2015; these cards will not be accepted by federal agencies for official purposes.  After that, individuals must prove they are in the U.S. lawfully in order to renew.

This web page of frequently asked questions will be updated as more information on the new law becomes available.