Monday, November 23, 2009

Driver's Licenses For Undocumented Immigrants? Not in Illinois

Driver's Licenses For Undocumented Immigrants?

In Illinois, a social security number is required to apply for a driver’s license, which makes it impossible for illegal immigrants to get one. But it also makes it difficult for some legal aliens to drive. Non-resident aliens—that is, people with H-1B status or other temporary work authorization—are allowed to apply for a social security card, but their spouse or children, who are in the country legally, are not. Therefore, they are also disqualified from obtaining a driver’s license.

On May 11, 2008, the REAL ID Act went into effect, which requires all states to adhere to certain minimum requirements to ensure the security of state-issued licenses and identification cards. One of the stipulations is that states require a social security number for anyone who wishes to get a driver’s license. Recognizing that states needed time to implement REAL ID, the federal government issued extensions until December 2009, with probable further extensions until May 2011. At that time, however, all state-issued identification cards will require a social security number.

1. It appears, at least so far, all courts ruling on the merits of the matter have ruled that it is legal to bar illegal aliens from obtaining drivers’ licenses.

If you have a valid driver's license from another state or country, you may use it to drive in Illinois throughout your stay (if you do not plan to become a permanent resident of this state).

Federal law requires that drivers license applicants provide their Social Security numbers, and those numbers must be verified by the state before they can issue a license. For non-citizens, they must produce their passport and visa proving that they are here legally and have permission to remain for at least one full year beyond the date they receive their license. The license must expire no later than the visa. Anyone with less than one full year remaining on their visa cannot get a drivers license. (Federal Real ID Act of 2005, federal government has pushed back the date of compliance to May 11, 2011)

ICE agents sometimes stake out DMVs looking for illegals -- hope you get caught! And police/state troopers likewise stake out DMVs due to the illicit activities relating to selling bogus licenses and assorted frauds going on. There have been a number of spectacular busts at DMVs
around the country, many of which have been reported in newspapers, online, etc.

2. Illinois does not recognize the international driver's license, according to the Illinois Secretary of State website.

3. Hawaii, Maryland, New Mexico, and Washington allow drivers to get licenses without proving they are legal residents. In states that allow illegal immigrants to drive — Maryland, Hawaii, New Mexico, and Washington — there have been attempts to reverse course.



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