A state issued driver’s license is a valuable document in the U.S. It not only allows its holder to drive, but it also serves as an accepted ID. Driver’s license is the nationwide commonly accepted identification document used to open bank accounts, register for school, apply for a job, apply for a mortgage, to buy goods and real estate, and others.
Since 9/11, states stopped issuing and renewing driver’s license without regards to the applicant’s immigration status.
Today, the majority of the states required the driver’s license applicant to demonstrate his/her legal status before issuing or renewing their driver’s license. The person must show he/she is a U.S. citizen, U.S. resident or a valid visa holder. A lot of states also accept immigration receipt notices, Form 797, together with the basis for the immigration benefit as a form to demonstrate immigration status. For instance: Mario who entered the U.S. legally (has an I-94), and overstayed his tourist visa. He later marries Ana, a U.S. citizen, and apply to adjust his status. Upon receipt of the immigration receipt notices, Mario may go to a driver’s license agency with the notices, his I-94, marriage certificate and proof of Ana’s U.S. citizenship. In addition to the status documentation, the driver’s license agencies will require proof of residency.
Lately, however, several U.S. states such as Utah, Washington, Maryland, Oregon, Connecticut, California, New Mexico, and Illinois, Nevada along with the District of Columbia, have enacted laws that would allow an unlawful immigrant to obtain a driver’s license.
On one side, opposition say that issuing driver’s license to undocumented workers is like giving an amnesty to the illegal immigrant, as it provides them with documentation. On the other hand, state governors believe that issuing driver’s license will among other things, increase public safety, as it will increase the number of insured driver’s in the state roads.
by Schonberg & Timerman
About the Authors
Laura Schonberg and Andrea Timerman developed their passion for immigration law through their own experience immigrating to the United States. Laura received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Juris Doctor Degree from Florida International University. Andrea received a Bachelors in Business Administration from Pace University, NY, and her Juris Doctor Degree from Florida International University. Both attorneys obtained ample experience in the immigration field before partnering to work as immigration attorneys at Schonberg & Timerman, P.L.