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In California, residents have to obtain a driver's permit within 10 days of becoming a resident. For an E-3 visa holder, does this 10 days begin when the plane lands, the day that they begin working, or something else (when they rent a property for instance)?

Unlike this J-1 visa question, I am not asking whether it is necessary to obtain a license at all, but rather when the residency status is gained for the E-3 visa.

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  • I've added a clarification to the question. This isn't asking about licenses, it's about establishing residency. – RodeoClown Aug 25 '18 at 21:45
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    @RodeoClown: But "residency" for the purposes of what? The word means different things in different contexts. Resident for federal tax purposes is not the same as resident for state tax purposes, which is not the same as resident for in-state tuition purposes, which is not the same as resident for driver's license purposes, etc. What in particular are you asking about? – user102008 Aug 25 '18 at 22:27
  • @user102008 I'm asking about residency for drivers license purposes, which is what the very first sentence in the question says. Please at least read the question before marking as duplicate/asking for clarification again. Thanks. – RodeoClown Aug 25 '18 at 23:38
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    But then you said you're not asking about licenses. So it seemed like you were asking about something else. – user102008 Aug 26 '18 at 2:12
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This is what the law says:

CVC 12502(a)(1):

(a) The following persons may operate a motor vehicle in this state without obtaining a driver’s license under this code:

(1) A nonresident over the age of 18 years having in his or her immediate possession a valid driver’s license issued by a foreign jurisdiction of which he or she is a resident, except as provided in Section 12505.

CVC 12505(a)(1):

(a) (1) For purposes of this division only and notwithstanding Section 516, residency shall be determined as a person’s state of domicile. “State of domicile” means the state where a person has his or her true, fixed, and permanent home and principal residence and to which he or she has manifested the intention of returning whenever he or she is absent.

Prima facie evidence of residency for driver’s licensing purposes includes, but is not limited to, the following:

(A) Address where registered to vote.

(B) Payment of resident tuition at a public institution of higher education.

(C) Filing a homeowner’s property tax exemption.

(D) Other acts, occurrences, or events that indicate presence in the state is more than temporary or transient.

CVC 12505(c):

(c) Any person entitled to an exemption under Section 12502, 12503, or 12504 may operate a motor vehicle in this state for not to exceed 10 days from the date he or she establishes residence in this state, except that a person shall not operate a motor vehicle for employment in this state after establishing residency without first obtaining a license from the department.

So a nonresident can drive with an out-of-state driver's license. You can no longer drive with an out-of-state driver's license more than 10 days after "establishing residence" in California. Residence is defined as the "state of domicile", which is defined as "the state where a person has his or her true, fixed, and permanent home and principal residence and to which he or she has manifested the intention of returning whenever he or she is absent".

So you are considered to become a resident (and can drive with an out-of-state driver's license no longer than 10 days after) when California becomes your true, fixed, and permanent home and principal residence and to which you have manifested the intention of returning whenever you are absent. Whether that happens when your plane lands, when you start a job, or never happens during your stay, that is something you will have to determine based on your circumstances.

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