Matt Powers, Deseret News
Irene Christenson has been trying to renew her license for six months, but has been unsuccessful because Homeland Security can't verify her Certificate of Naturalization. On Tuesday, June 5, 2012, she was told to call the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service to make an appointment. She has no idea when she will be given a permanent license.
It’s just baffling,” she said. "I’ve been a citizen for almost 30 years now, served in the Army, and now I still can’t get a driver’s license. —Irene Christenson

TAYLORSVILLE — Irene Christenson became a U.S. citizen nearly 30 years ago. She's been a permanent Utah resident for more than 10 years.

But getting her driver's license renewed a second time has turned into a lengthy ordeal with no resolution in sight.

She went to the Driver License Division Tuesday to renew her temporary driver license, which expires at the end of the week. She expected she would have her permanent license by now.

“It’s just baffling,” she said. "I’ve been a citizen for almost 30 years now, served in the Army, and now I still can’t get a driver’s license.”

The Driver License Division needs to verify a person’s identity and legal status in the U.S. It accepts a passport, a birth certificate, a Certificate of Naturalization or a Certificate of Citizenship to prove legal status. It also requires a Social Security card for renewal.

She brought the required documents, including her Certificate of Naturalization, but she ran into renewal problems in December, and there's still no resolution in sight.

“They told me to wait six months,” she said. “We waited that six months, and here we are back to more work, and now it’s more work on my end. It’s no longer work on their end.”

Homeland Security needs to verify the certificate, which usually takes seconds. When that didn't happen in December, Christenson got a temporary license and was told it would take 30 days because her certificate is "too old" and not stored in a computer database.

“Sometimes there are just road blocks that come up that neither the applicant nor the agency can foresee,” Utah Driver Services Bureau Chief Chris Caras said.

Caras wants to resolve this, too, but the bureau needs verification from Homeland Security before issuing a license. He said he was not sure why some documents take longer to verify.

"Luckily, it is a small number, but unfortunately, if you're part of that small number, I'm sure it's a frustrating process to go through," Caras said.

Christenson has followed every instruction, and Tuesday was told to contact U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to make an appointment. She said she has no confidence this problem will be resolved.

“I think I’m going to be carrying around this temporary (license) for quite a while still,” she said.