Last Tuesday I went back to the DPS to renew my drivers license — temporary visitors now have to do that once a year. I took exactly the same documents with me that allowed me to get a drivers license last year (passport, visa, I-20 immigration form, I-94 immigration form, current drivers license, enrollment verification, tuition payment receipt), but this time I was denied.
Last year, the item that I absolutely needed to show was the tuition payment receipt–which I fortunately kept. This year, I made sure to carefully set the tuition payment receipt aside, only to find out that there’s nothing the DPS can do with it or with the regular enrollment verification that Rice issues via the National Student Clearinghouse, a third-party non-profit organization that handles enrollment and degree verification for 3,300 colleges in the US.
Contrary to Houston Metro, for example, where the National Student Clearinghouse verification is accepted, the DPS requires a special hand-signed enrollment verification on Rice letterhead, which I then had to get prepared. There are two problems with this: First, nowhere did it state that Rice’s regular enrollment verification was not acceptable, which means I had to wait longer and pay additional fees. Second, and more importantly, I almost would not have received the hand-signed enrollment verification in time.
Processing for the hand-signed document takes two to five business days at Rice. This Wednesday, my student visa will expire within six months, and when the expiration date is within six months, the DPS will not issue a drivers license or ID card at all! I assume when that happens, students are expected to finish their studies without being able to drive.
Fortunately, the Registrar’s Office at Rice was able to issue the hand-signed enrollment verification by closing time on Friday (they promised it would be done on Thursday, and I had to tell them on Friday that I am not leaving without it).
This morning I went back to the DPS and got my license renewed, but again, just like last year, I am shocked by how arbitrary the DPS handles these matters for legal non-residents, while I am sure that illegal immigrants are not affected by these procedures at all. This doesn’t make anyone safer, it is merely a hassle for foreigners who are here legally.