Part of the driver license application process in Florida involves proving lawful status in the U.S. There are many documents or sets of documents an applicant can provide to the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to accomplish this. The DMV, however, has implemented a policy disallowing approval of driver license applications when the immigration documents presented are based on same-sex marriages. This would include providing a receipt notice for an adjustment of status application, coupled with a same-sex marriage-based visa petition approval notice, as well as dependent nonimmigrant visas issued to the same-sex spouse of the principal nonimmigrant.
Same-sex couples have been eligible for marriage-based immigration benefits since the Supreme Court held the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) to be unconsitutional last October. However, because the state of Florida does not permit same-sex marriages, the DMV will not issue Florida driver licenses to beneficiaries of same-sex visa petitions when the petition and marriage certificate are used to prove lawful status. Additionally, if a temporary license was issued and the DMV’s document confirmation procedure reveals that the document is based on a same-sex marriage, the temporary license will be canceled.
This does not mean, however, that beneficiaries of same-sex visa petitions cannot ever obtain a driver license. For those beneficiaries who have received an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) or Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) card , providing the EAD or LPR card ends the inquiry with the DMV and the driver license will be issued. However, not all same-sex beneficiaries in lawful status obtain EADs or LPR cards, and so obtaining a driver license is not possible.
The various Florida chapters of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and many others are fighting the DMV policy, as the DMV’s sole concern should be whether an applicant is in lawful status, not how that person obtained such status. We will provide further updates as the matter develops.