Driver's license/ID

New Iowan: Immigrant & Refugee Resources

Siblings hugging

We recognize that obtaining identity (identification card or driver’s license) and making a plan to be mobile is critical for your life in your new community. We’re here to help provide information and resources to make this process less confusing and stressful. The following sections address information, resources, and services specific to New Iowans (immigrant and refugee community members).

 

 

 

WHAT CAN YOUR CARD (IDENTIFICATION CARD OR DRIVER’S LICENSE) DO?

Relocating to a new area, state, or country (whether by choice or not) can be an intimidating process. Getting where you need to go, when you need to go is a critical factor in your life.

We’re here to help you understand the differences between the card types, and the associated driving privileges with each type. Driving without the correct card type may lead to receiving citations (tickets/fines) from law enforcement, an expensive process we want to help you avoid.

Contact us

Have questions specific to your record and eligibility? We’re here to help. Contact us in a way convenient for you.

Phone: 515-244-8725
Email: Driver.Services@iowadot.us
Fax: 515-239-1837
Website

WHAT IS A REAL ID?

Beginning Oct. 1, 2020, If you fly commercially you’ll either need a REAL ID license or ID in addition to your USCIS issued document, or you’re going to be subject to additional screening and potential delay.

Don’t panic! We’re here to help you determine if you already have a REAL ID license or ID or decide if a REAL ID license or ID is right for you. More about Real ID.

GETTING AN IDENTIFICATION CARD OR A DRIVER’S LICENSE FOR THE FIRST TIME

When you apply for an identification card (ID) or driver’s license (DL) for the first time, you will need to provide certain documentation to prove your identity and residential address.

The following information explains what documentation to bring when you visit one of our service centers, and why we require certain documents before issuing your ID or DL.

Step one

  Apply for an Iowa Real ID-Compliant card

Customer visits a driver's license service center to apply for an Iowa Real ID-Compliant card (driver's license or identification card)


Step two

 Provide Documentation


Customer must provide:
  1. Proof of identity document (USCIS);
  2. Social Security Number (if applicable);
  3. Two items that show Iowa physical residency (address)
What Documents do I provide?+

 

Step two

  Verifies lawful status

Iowa DOT consultant verifies customer's lawful status via DHS/USCIS.
Do I Need To Provide Proof of Legal Status?+

 

Step two

  May need additional verification


Sometimes, additional verification (manual review of documents by DHS/USCIS) is necessary. Generally, it takes 3-7 business days to receive a response.
What's Next in the Verification Process?+

Step one

  Iowa DOT receives response from USCIS:

  1. Issue ID or driver's license accordingly; or
  2. advise customer of verification response & next steps

RENEWING, UDPATING, OR GETTING A DUPLICATE OF YOUR IOWA IDENTIFICATION CARD OR DRIVER’S LICENSE

Step one

  Renew, update or replace card

Customer visits us to renew, update, or replace their Iowa card.


Step two

 Do you have a REAL ID card?

Does the customer already have a REAL ID card?
If YES+
If NO+

Step two

  Verifies lawful status

Iowa DOT consultant verifies customer's lawful status via DHS/USCIS.
Do I Need To Provide Proof of Legal Status?+

 

Step two

  May need additional verification


Sometimes, additional verification (manual review of documents by DHS/USCIS) is necessary. Generally, it takes 3-7 business days to receive a response.
What's Next in the Verification Process?+

Step one

  Iowa DOT receives response from USCIS:

  1. issue ID or driver’s license accordingly; or
  2. advise customer of verification response & next steps

RESOURCES FOR LIMITED ENGLISH PROFICIENT (LEP) CUSTOMERs

Technical and legal language can sometimes make it difficult to understand, regardless of someone’s understanding of the English language. We strive to create resources that utilize images or graphics to help better explain important information.

We also utilize a contracted language provider for translation and interpretation services. Our staff and you (yes, you!) can request language assistance for,

  • Conversations in-person at our driver’s license service centers;
  • Conversations by phone;
  • Instructions prior to taking an on-the-road driving test (not available for commercial skills testing as Federal regulations require these testing portions be completed in English only)

Important

We offer the driver’s license (operator) knowledge test in language other than English. Currently, we make available written and audio translation in the following languages,

  • Albanian
  • Arabic
  • Bosnian
  • Burmese
  • Cambodian
  • Chinese
  • French
  • German
  • Greek
  • Hebrew
  • Hmong
  • Italian
  • Korean
  • Laotian
  • Polish
  • Portuguese
  • Russian
  • Somali
  • Spanish
  • Vietnamese
 

We suggest that if you need language assistance, have someone write the language and/or dialect you need on a piece of paper, and bring that with you during your visit. Simply hand that to one of us and we’ll get an interpreter on the phone to ensure that you understand the important information that we’re relaying, and that we answer any questions you may have for us.

We currently offer limited language resources for our driver’s license study manual.

What if I need a language or dialect that is not offered?

We do offer additional opportunities to take the operator’s knowledge test using an interpreter. These opportunities are by appointment only, so please be sure to speak with a driver’s license service consultant to request an appointment.  

Resources

Frequently asked questions

arrow   I WAS TOLD THAT I COULDN’T BE ISSUED TODAY AND WAS GIVEN A ‘SAVE’ LETTER. WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?

We’re required to verify everyone’s lawful status when they apply for an Iowa driver’s license or identification card. For our customers who are not U.S. citizens, we must submit the customer’s USCIS issued document to USCIS for their review and response. Sometimes, we receive a response from USCIS that states, ‘additional verification is required.’ This can happen for a variety of reasons (customer is newly arrived in the United States, pending renewal or extension of their USCIS document, or customer is eligible under a Federal Register Notice, like a Temporary Protected Status (TPS)) but shouldn’t alarm you that there is an issue. Rather, it means that a USCIS employee has to manually review your document information and then manually send us back a response. This extra step requires us to send information through a different system that is commonly called SAVE.

arrow  I DON’T HAVE A CURRENT USCIS DOCUMENT (IT EXPIRED, PENDING RENEWAL, LOST THE DOCUMENT). WHEN I WENT TO RENEW, I WAS TOLD THAT I MUST HAVE THE DOCUMENT IN-HAND BEFORE I RETURN. WHAT CAN I DO?

If you’ve never been issued an Iowa driver’s license or identification card before we must have a valid USCIS document to verify your lawful status before we can continue with the issuance process. If you are a refugee and have been issued an I-94, we can attempt to look up your information on the DHS/USCIS website.

If you’re trying to renew, update, or get a duplicate of your Iowa driver’s license or identification card and do not have a valid USCIS document with you, we can try to verify your lawful status using the last USCIS document you provided to us. Please feel free to ask to speak with a supervisor if you’ve been asked to return when you have a valid USCIS document and they can make sure we have attempted to verify your lawful status using the information we have.

arrow  THE OPERATOR’S KNOWLEDGE EXAM (DRIVER’S LICENSE EXAM) DOES NOT OFFER THE LANGUAGE OR DIALECT I NEED. WHAT CAN I DO?

We do offer additional opportunities to take the operator’s knowledge test using an interpreter. These opportunities are by appointment only, so please be sure to speak with a driver’s license service consultant to request an appointment.

arrow  I NEED OR PREFER TO TALK TO SOMEONE IN A LANGUAGE OTHER THAN ENGLISH

Technical and legal language can sometimes make it difficult to understand, regardless of someone’s understanding of the English language. We strive to create resources that utilize images or graphics to help better explain important information.

We also utilize a contracted language provider for translation and interpretation services. Our staff and you (yes you!) can request language assistance for,

  • Conversations in-person at our driver’s license service centers;
  • Conversations by phone;
  • Instructions prior to taking an on-the-road driving test (not available for commercial skills testing as Federal regulations require these testing portions be completed in English only)

We suggest that if you need language assistance, have someone write the language and/or dialect you need on a piece of paper, and bring that with you during your visit. Simply hand that to one of us and we’ll get an interpreter on the phone to ensure that you understand the important information that we’re relaying, and that we answer any questions you may have for us.