SAVE Database- Issues with Obtaining SSN and Driver's Licenses

The Systematic Nonimmigrant Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) Program is an intergovernmental initiative that aids benefit-granting agencies in determining an applicant's immigration status and uses an online system to check immigration record information in Department of Homeland Security (DHS) databases. Sometimes, an international student or scholar may encounter issues with the SAVE database used to verify immigration status or work authorization for eligibility for a Social Security Number, driver's licenses, or other government benefits. Some issues arise from inconsistencies in data between other government agency databases. For example, the name or date of birth in the Social Security database does not match the I-94 information in the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) database.

Other issues are specific to F/M/J students or scholars. For example, some types of work authorization for F/M/J do not appear in the SAVE database, particularly those that are merely authorized in SEVIS and do not require an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) Card through United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) (e.g., Curricular Practical Training [CPT], automatic Optional Practical Training [OPT] extensions for cap gap, and STEM while the EAD is pending, etc.). 

The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) and the USCIS Verification Office (which runs SAVE and E-verify) are working together and plan to have a better interface between SAVE and SEVIS. In the meantime, SEVP has a staff working on these issues who have contacts in the Social Security Administration as well as the 56 state and territory agencies that provide driver's licenses (departments of motor vehicles, or "DMVs").

Note: SEVP also works with DMVs regarding the documentation required by the state. For example, SEVP has indicated that some states that usually require an 'unexpired visa' have been willing to accept a letter from SEVP or DHS that indicates the student is maintaining status; some states have also accepted a print-out of the SEVIS profile as proof of status.

Requesting Assistance through USCIS Verification Office

If the student encounters a problem in obtaining a driver's license/Social Security number that appears to be a SAVE issue, the student may be able to resolve the issue by contacting the USCIS Verification Office for assistance:

USCIS Verification Programs Contact Center: 1-888-464-4218

E-mail Address: SAVE.HELP@dhs.gov

Requesting Assistance through SEVP

First, read SEVP's Fact Sheet to read about common issues, troubleshooting, and SEVP contact information. The Fact Sheet also addresses information specific to accompanying spouses and dependents seeking a driver's license or state ID.

If further assistance is needed, the student's SEVIS school official (DSO or RO/ARO) may send an email to dmvssa.sevp@ice.dhs.gov with subject line: 'SSA/DMV issue, ______ [Note: list the city/state where the particular SSA/DMV office is located].' The DSO and RO/ARO can even send a list of students with issues with the same SSA office/DMV so that the cases can all be dealt with at once.

In the e-mail message, DSO and RO/AROs should include the following information about the applicant:

  1. SEVIS ID
  2. Family name
  3. First name
  4. Date of Birth
  5. Form I-94 admission number (11 digits)
  6. Applicant's physical address
  7. Applicant's phone number
  8. Applicant's e-mail address (not required, but helpful)
  9. Address of the SSA/DMV office where problem occurred
  10. Date of the latest SSA/DMV office visit
  11. SAVE case number (if available)
  12. Current driver's license/ID/customer number and/or DMV receipt number (if available)
  13. Explanation of the problem

SEVP has reported that most SAVE database conflicts in these circumstances are due to the student's registration not being reflected in SAVE, either because the student has not been registered in SEVIS yet, or because there is a delay in batching to SEVIS and then to SAVE. Another common scenario is a failure to terminate the previous SEVIS record after a change in status.

SEVP offers some practice tips:

  • Wait 10 calendar days from the date of entry or other immigration transaction, to give time for the SAVE database to be updated by other DHS systems.
  • Students and exchange visitors must be in Active SEVIS status, and should allow 1-2 additional business days after F or M registration or J validation for the information to appear in the SAVE database.
  • The DSO and RO/ARO should confirm that the name and date of birth match throughout SEVIS and other documentation (I-94, visa, passport)
  • Note: Several states require that a nonimmigrant have at least six months left on the Form I-20, "Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status," or Form DS-2019, "Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status," to be eligible for a driver's license.

IssueNet

IssueNet

Report your issues or concerns to the ISS Regulatory Practice Committee through IssueNet: Report an Issue.

Request case-specific assistance from your NAFSA Regulatory Ombudspersons with cases pending at USCIS Service Centers through IssueNet: Get Liaison Help.

Other Resources

Social Security Administration: International Students And Social Security Numbers