Depending on where you live, it is not always required to have a Social Security Number in order to get a driver’s license. Effective December 14, a new law allows a New Yorker to apply for a license to drive without a Social Security number. Applicants will be able to establish their identity using other documents such as a foreign passport. The law prohibits the disclosure of applications for licenses to federal immigration authorities without a court order. Federal law allows states to issue driving licenses under the constitutional authority of the 10th Amendment. Congress enacted REAL ID in 2005 which created federal standards for state-issued driver’s licenses, including evidence of lawful status.
Identification documents required to get a driver’s license vary by state, but include:
• foreign birth certificate
• foreign passport
• consular card
• evidence of current residency in the state
If you meet your state’s identification document requirements, you must also meet your state’s other requirements to get a license to drive including passing a vision exam, a driving test and a written test of traffic laws, in addition to paying an application fee.
13 states currently allow someone to get a driver’s license without a social security number:
• New Mexico
• New York
• Washington DC
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), in 2019, several states introduced legislation to provide driver’s licenses to undocumented residents including Florida, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, and Texas. The Oregon House passed legislation in June 2019 which would provide licenses to undocumented residents.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has been using facial recognition to scan driver’s license photos in some states, although Illinois has turned down ICE requests to review driver’s licenses.
United States immigration laws can be extraordinarily complicated. The attorneys at Chicago’s Godoy Law Office fight for the rights of immigrants in Illinois and help immigrants navigate the complex and numerous immigration policies, procedures, and regulations. If you need help with an immigration issue, please contact our office at 855-554-6369.