Driver’s Licenses for Undocumented Immigrants

March 2, 2020

This past December, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy passed new legislation that will permit undocumented immigrants to receive driver’s licenses. The new law goes into effect on January 1, 2021. These licenses will not be accepted as an identification document or to vote, and are only to be used for driving-related needs.

Reasons for the Decision

The purpose of these licenses is to make the roads safer for everyone and decrease the number of uninsured drivers. In the northeast, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey have large immigrant populations that are growing exponentially. In New Jersey, two million immigrants make up 23 percent of the state’s total population, and these numbers are expected to grow.

One of the realities of this growing population is that more drivers will be on the roads and highways, including undocumented immigrants. Those who do not learn how to drive and receive a license may become involved in more accidents, injuries, and road fatalities.

A similar law went into effect in New York City on December 14. It was estimated that around half a million undocumented immigrants live there, and approximately 265,000 are expected to receive driver’s licenses within the coming three years. The state’s Department of Motor Vehicles is banned from sharing this data with immigration enforcement agencies, unless there is a Court order.

Classes of the New License

The new law specifies that there will be two classes for the licenses:

  • Standard License: This is comparable to most other New Jersey resident licenses. It will be available to anyone who lives here, regardless of their immigration
  • REAL ID: This will be the only type of license permitted for those wishing to fly on planes or enter federal facilities. Starting in October 2020, applicants for these IDs must prove that they have the legal right to live in New Jersey and the United States.

How to Apply

To apply for a standard license or REAL ID, applicants can go to their local New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission agency offices. Appointments may be required, so it is a good idea to call first. The Commission’s Chief Administrator stated that multiple forms of identification will be needed, plus bank statements and utility bills to establish a proof of residency. She added that no one will be issued an identity credential without proof of age, residence, and identity. Birth certificates, visas, and passports may be accepted.

The new licenses will also follow New Jersey’s six-point system for identification, which can be found online. Other acceptable documents may include an employment identification card and a current permanent resident card without an expiration date. Anyone found using altered or fake documents may receive a $500 fine or jail time.

Vineland Immigration Lawyers at the MC Law Group, LLC Help Clients with All Types of Immigration Issues

If you need legal guidance with applying for a license or any other immigration issue, contact the trusted Vineland immigration lawyers at the MC Law Group, LLC. Complete our online form or call us at 215-496-0690 for a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout the tri-state area, including Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and nationwide.