States where driver’s licenses are issued to undocumented immigrants

The ability to move freely is essential to daily life, especially in a country as large as the United States.

For the undocumented, obtaining a driver’s license may seem like a distant dream, but there is good news: several states have implemented policies that allow residents without legal status to legally obtain a driver’s license.

In addition, this permit provides a layer of protection in routine interactions, reducing the fear of deportation during traffic stops. This article explores those states that provide this vital opportunity, marking a significant step toward inclusion and safety on the road.

States that Grant Licenses to Undocumented Persons

To date, 15 states, in addition to Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico, have legislated in favor of granting driver’s licenses to undocumented drivers. This list includes:

  1. California (AB60): Requires proof of identity and California residency. The licenses have a mark indicating that they are not valid for federal purposes.
  2. Colorado (SB 13-251): Applicants must provide proof of Colorado residency, have paid taxes and possess an ITIN. The license has a special designation.
  3. Connecticut (HB 6495): Undocumented persons may obtain licenses if they prove Connecticut residency and have no serious criminal record. The license does not serve as federal identification.
  4. Delaware (SB 59): Requires proof of residency through tax returns and cannot be used as federal identification.
  5. Hawaii (H 1007): Allows undocumented persons to prove residency in the archipelago to obtain a driver’s license.
  6. Illinois (SB 0957): Undocumented persons may obtain a license marked “temporary visitor” after proving more than one year of residency and presenting passport or matricula consular.
  7. Maryland (SB 715): Requires applicants to pay taxes in the state. The licenses have a different design and cannot be used to purchase guns or as federal identification.
  8. Nevada (SB 303): The license obtained by undocumented aliens has a slightly different design and is not considered a valid form of identification.
  9. New York (Green Light Bill): Began issuing licenses to undocumented persons in December 2019. Proof of identity and state residency is required.
  10. New Jersey: Passed a law similar to New York’s, but implementation is pending.
  11. New Mexico (HB 173): One of the first laws that allowed undocumented immigrants to obtain licenses. The law has faced attempts at restriction.
  12. Oregon (HB2015): Reactivated the issuance of licenses to undocumented immigrants in August 2019. Previously, the state allowed these licenses before repealing the law.
  13. Utah (SB 227): Grants driving permits valid for one year to undocumented drivers, with a special mark that distinguishes them.
  14. Vermont (S 38): Allows undocumented persons to obtain a “Driving Privilege” upon proof of identity and residency.
  15. Washington (HB 1444): With one of the oldest policies, Washington allows undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses by requiring proof of state residency.
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Additional Considerations

  • Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico also allow undocumented immigrants to obtain licenses, with specific residency and documentation requirements.
  • Most of these licenses are not valid for federal identification purposes, such as boarding aircraft or entering federal facilities, in compliance with the Real ID Act.
  • It is essential that interested parties check with their state authorities for up-to-date information on requirements and procedures, as laws and policies may change.
  • Texas, notable for its large immigrant population, does not allow the issuance of licenses to undocumented immigrants, highlighting the diversity of state policies in the US.
  • Most of these licenses are marked differently from regular licenses, indicating that they are not valid for federal identification purposes, such as boarding aircraft or entering federal buildings.

In addition, undocumented immigrants can obtain licenses in Washington D.C. and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

General requirements to apply for a driver’s license

driving licenses

Although requirements vary, some common ones include:

  • Proof of identity and age.
  • Proof of state residency.
  • Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).
  • Pass vision, theoretical and practical driving tests.
  • Pay the applicable fees.

As more states consider adopting similar policies, it is crucial that interested parties become adequately informed about the requirements and processes in their state of residence. Mobility is a fundamental right, and these policies help ensure that everyone, regardless of their immigration status, can exercise it safely and legally.

The ability to obtain a driver’s license is a significant advancement for the undocumented in the U.S., offering not only mobility and safety, but also a sense of recognition and participation in the society to which they contribute daily.

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If you reside in one of these states and meet the requirements, this opportunity can make a big difference in the lives of you and your family. Remember to consult official sources and, if necessary, seek legal advice to fully understand the process and the documents required.

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