In June 2019, Andrew Cuomo, the NY Governor, signed a law that permits undocumented immigrants to acquire driver’s licenses. The New York state had earlier approved the bill.
The legislation, also referred to as the Green Light Bill, allows at least 265,000 undocumented immigrants in New York to access a driver’s license.
The law took effect on December 14, 2019. It allows non-U.S. citizens, above 16 years, to apply for a NY driver’s license irrespective of their citizenship status.
According to the DMV report, the law had been passed in the neighboring Connecticut four years earlier and the outcome was a decline in hit-and-run accidents and a reduction in unlicensed driving tickets.
The proponents of the bill say that the legislation has three major benefits:
- Improves safety on the roads – It means undocumented immigrants can now find the best driving schools in New York and learn how to drive. Thus, good driving skills reduce the number of traffic violations on New York roads.
- Boosts state revenue – Allowing undocumented New Yorkers to access a driver’s license can generate up to $84 million in government revenue over the first three years. For years, undocumented aliens have been contributing massively toward the U.S. economy and providing them access to a New York driver’s license improve the economy even further.
- Helps to bond families by ensuring that undocumented drivers aren’t pulled over and deported.
Before signing the law, Gov. Cuomo had raised concerns that the federal would use access the DMV database to track down undocumented immigrants. However, Anu Joshi pointed out that the bill provides privacy protection against undocumented individuals.
The DMV mixes undocumented persons with everyone else applying for the driver’s license, and it’s not allowed by the law to keep the original documents’ records. Besides, a federal immigration agency would require an individual judicial warrant to access any information from DMV’s database.
Steps for Getting the New York Driver’s License for Undocumented Immigrants
1. You must be at least 16 years
2. Get some proof of identification documents required at the NY DMV offices. For the most part, you’ll need a valid foreign passport. To get the exact documentation for getting a permit by the DMV, check out their page.
3. For a faster service, make a reservation online before you visit the DMV offices in New York City, Albany, Rockland, Nassau, Onondaga, Suffolk, Monroe, or Westchester Counties. Click on this link to go to the NY DMV website and make a reservation first.
4. Prepare for the written test by going through the NYS driver’s manual as well as the practical tests.
5. Visit the DMV office in person. You can check out their offices plus working hours.
6. Take the written test. It comprises of 20 multiple-choice questions. To pass it, you must get 14 or more questions correct. These include at least two correct answers to the four questions on road signs. Click here to access the DMV Permit Test Questions & Answers
7. Wait up to two weeks for your permit to arrive via mail.
8. Prepare for a driving test by:
- Going through a supervised driving practice
- Taking a pre-licensing driving course or complete driver education course. The best driving school in New York can offer any of the two. You can check out our five-hour pre-licensing course in New York.
9. Take a road test before the permit expires
10. Get the driver’s license
12. If you pass the test, your examiner will provide you with the interim license that permits you to drive. Keep this license together with the photo permit until you receive the new NY driver’s license through mail after about two weeks.
13. If you fail the test, you may schedule for another one. Just be sure to choose the right location for your road test.
What Documentation Will Be Required to Obtain a New York Driver’s License?
The bill won’t require undocumented individuals to provide their identity rather than proof of their immigration status. Under legislation, the acceptable proof of identity include a valid, unexpired passport from the home country, identity documentation by a foreign consulate or a driver’s license (foreign) that doesn’t exceed 24 months past its expiry date.
Applicants without a Social Security Number may provide a signed affidavit, which states they aren’t in a position to provide one, in line with the bill.
Those with a foreign driver’s license can continue to drive without accessing New York State driver’s license until they officially become state residents, which is defined as having resided in New York for 90 days minimum according to the New York DMV website.
Will the Driver’s License for Undocumented Immigrants Be Similar to That of Legal Residents and Citizens?
Using a multitier system, the NYS would a driver’s license to undocumented individuals who’d be eligible for a license that couldn’t be use for any federal identification purpose. The reason is according to the REAL ID Act of 2005, a state-issued driver’s license must comply with particular standards by October 2020.
One of the standards states that the license can verify the immigration status of the applicant if they should be used for identification purposes, such as boarding an aircraft.
In 2001, the then governor of New York, George Pataki issued an executive order that requires those applying for a NY driver’s license to avail a valid SSN or other documents that confirm their legal status.
But, the federal law doesn’t stop states from implanting a multitier system. Thus, undocumented New Yorkers would qualify for a driver’s license that’s similar to that of legal residents or American citizens only that the former’s license would have the statement: “not for federal purposes.”
Would the Driver’s License Allow Immigration Officers to Clamp Down on Undocumented Immigrants?
The bill has provisions that would make it challenging for federal officials to access information related to undocumented immigrants from the DMV records.
A court order may be required before a state would provide personal details of licensed drivers to federal authorities. Besides, the state would be required to alert a licensed driver within three days of possible requests to access their personal information. There’s also a provision where recipients are required to certify that they may not use such information or records for purposes of civil immigration. The bill also requires that the NY driver’s license for undocumented immigrants contains the words, “not for federal purposes” in the smallest font size.
How Does New York Compare to Other States That Allow Undocumented Immigrants to Access a Driver’s License?
The other 12 states and the District of Columbia that provide undocumented individuals with driver’s licenses include California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Nevada, Washington, Delaware, Illinois, Utah, Vermont, Maryland, New Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Washington, D.C.
These states currently allow undocumented persons to access a driver’s license in several ways.
Since 2005, Utah has allowed undocumented individuals to get a driver’s license, but for one year a time and the people must provide proof for state residency for 6 months, have a tax identification number, and can’t use the driver’s license for an identification purpose.
In Maryland and Delaware, two years of a person’s income tax returns may be used as a residency requirement. In California, on the other hand, a wide array of documents is needed to prove identity.
The provisions in the Nevada law are similar to those in the New York legislation – to limit the access of licensees’ personal data to federal immigration officials as analyzed by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Remember, the undocumented drivers will have to follow similar requirements as all the New York drivers, and that includes having auto insurance.
With the legislation in place, it’s now easier for any undocumented person aged 16 years and above, to get a driver license in New York. After getting your permit, be sure to go through supervised driving.
Get Your Driver’s License in NY Quicker!
For the past 13 years, we’ve prepared many New Yorkers for their road tests and most have passed pretty well to receive a driver’s license.
We are currently helping undocumented individuals to learn driving and pass the road test so they get a license faster. Get your driver’s license faster by training with Pierre Paul Driving School.
For more information or inquiries, call the New York DMV at 1 (518) 473-5595