Name Change for Client on Work Visa – DMV / SAVE

Client from India who is Legal Resident on work visa cannot renew NJ Driver’s License because the name on the Federal SAVE (Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements Program Database System) and the Department of Motor Vehicles do not match.

Our firm was recently hired to help a citizen of India here on a work visa renew his NJ Driver’s License.  The problem arose because the federal Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements Program Database System (SAVE) has a programming error.  Due to the way the name appears on a passport from India, the SAVE database merges the person’s first and middle name into a single first name. The SAVE database is a component of the Department of Homeland Security that was created “as a fast, secure and efficient verification service for federal, state and local benefit-granting agencies to verify a benefit applicant’s immigration status or naturalized/derived citizenship.”

The New Jersey Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is one of the government agencies that relies on the SAVE database to verify valid immigration status in order to issue or renew a driver’s licence.  Even though our client had a previously issued driver’s license, when he went to renew his licence he was told that he could not because the name on his previous license and other legal documents did not match what is in the SAVE database.  NJDMV recognized that it was a continuing problem with legal residents from India, but, said they could do nothing about it.

Our client had made numerous unsuccessful calls to SAVE directly to find out how to correct their records.  They were unable to do so. When the client consulted with our firm we came up with the idea that a legal name change signed by a Superior Court Judge from the name in the SAVE System to the correct name with a first, middle, and last name would force DMV to issue the license.  We have added a provision in the proposed Judgement, the document the Superior Court Judge will sign, that it is  “specifically recognized that certain public records have combined the first and middle name, and this Judgement is intended to separate the first and middle name.” We are hopeful that this clarification will be enough for DMV to renew the license and correct the name. We have filed this Name Change Complaint and we will update our blog to advise if this approach proves successful.