Topic:
MOTOR VEHICLES; ALIENS; DRIVER LICENSES;
Location:
MOTOR VEHICLES - LICENSES;

OLR Research Report


October 18, 2002

 

2002-R-0767

ISSUING DRIVER'S LICENSES TO NONCITIZENS

 

By: Danielle O'Connell

You asked us to identify (1) criteria states use for issuing driver's licenses to non U.S. citizens and (2) any recent federal legislation affecting licenses for noncitizens. This report describes criteria for issuing regular (noncommercial) driver's licenses in the 40 states from which we were able to receive information.

SUMMARY

All 40 states surveyed allow noncitizens to obtain a driver's license, but in some states the criteria for noncitizen applicants exceed those for citizens. All but eight of the 40 states require noncitizens to prove that they are legally in the country. Ten issue a different type of license to noncitizens. The noncitizen license may be nonrenewable, have a validity period commensurate with the validity period of the applicant's visa, bear a notation indicating a noncitizen or special status, or some combination of the above (see Attachment 1).

In addition to the above standards, noncitizens must meet other standards that all applicants must meet, including minimum standards of personal identification and residency verification. All applicants must present acceptable personal identification and proof of state residency or domicile. Each state typically requires an applicant to present one or more of the following: passport, out-of-state driver's license or identification card, military identification, marriage license, birth certificate, copy of lease or mortgage, utility bill, canceled bank check, and state Department of Correction certificate of discharge or release. Some states require additional information or documentation. This includes a Social Security Number (SSN), Social Security card, IRS Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN), or some combination of these.

Some states require noncitizens to renew their license in person; other states set this requirement for both noncitizens and citizens.

The federal government has passed no recent legislation affecting the issuance of driver's licenses to noncitizens, but two bills are currently before Congress. The Driver's License Integrity Act (H.R. 5322), currently before the Judiciary Committee, would make a U.S. driver's license issued to a nonimmigrant alien valid only as long as the alien's nonimmigrant visa is valid. H.R. 4030, would prohibit federal agencies from accepting any state-issued driver's license as identification from a nonimmigrant unless it expires when the nonimmigrant visa expires. The bill was referred to the Committee on Government Reform, House Administration, Judiciary and Armed Services on March 20, 2002. On May 2, 2002, the subcommittee on Immigration and Claims of the Judiciary Committee forwarded the bill to the full committee by voice vote.

Attachment 1: Select Criteria For Issuing Driver's Licenses In 40 States

Requirements for Non-citizens

Must

Renew DL in Person

Requirements for All Applicants (Non-Citizens and Citizens)

State

Proof of Lawful

U.S.

Presence Required

Issued

Non-Renewable

DL

Special Status noted on DL

Shortened

DL Expiration

Date

SSN Disclosure or Proof of SSN Required

Alternate

Identification

Number (ITIN) Allowed

Thumb or Finger Printing

Required

Other/

Comments

AK

Yes

   

No

 

Yes, if issued

   

Applicant must sign affidavit verifying they have no SSN

AR

Yes

   

No

 

Yes

No

   

CA

Yes

       

Must disclose, but no proof required

 

Yes

Licenses not issued to deported aliens.

CO

Yes

       

Must disclose, but no proof required

 

Yes

If current DL is from a state that does not require lawful US presence proof of legal presence is necessary

CT

Yes

No

No

No

Yes

No

No

No

 

DE

Yes

       

Yes, if eligible

     

FL

Yes

No

No

Yes

Noncitizens only

Yes, if eligible

No

Yes

Copies of any foreign documents must be kept by DMV until status is verified with INS

GA

Yes

No

No

No

No

Yes (beginning July 2003)

No

Yes

 

HI

No

   

No

 

Yes

 

Yes

 

ID

Yes

No

No

No

Yes

Yes

No

 

Verifies SSN through on-line system with SSA

IN

Yes

No

No

No

No

Yes

No

No

Applicant must sign affidavit verifying they have no SSN

IA

Yes

No

No

Yes

Yes

Yes, but waived for temporary foreign national with INS documentation

No

No

DMV did issue a rule requiring special status notation on non-citizen's DL but revoked policy after pressure from ACLU

KS

Yes

No

No

Yes

Noncitizens only

No

No

No

 

KY

Yes

No

No

Yes

Noncitizens only

Yes

Yes

 

Foreigners must wait up to 30 days to learn if eligible for DL

LA

Yes

No

Yes (not yet effective)

Yes (not yet effective)

Noncitizens only

Yes

No

 

If no SSN, need to provide proof from SSA

Temporary U.S. residents cannot be issued DL

ME

         

Yes

   

DL can be issued without SSN if not eligible

MD

Yes

No

No

No

Yes

Yes

Disclosure only

No

No

 

MA

Yes

 

No

No

 

Yes, if eligible

No

 

If no SSN need to provide proof, such as a denial letter from SSA

MI

No

No

No

No

No

No

No

   

MN

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

No

 

Temporary U.S. residents have “status check” with visa expiration date noted on their DL

MO

Yes

No

No

No

Yes

Yes

     

NV

No

No

No

No

No

Yes

No

No

Applicant must sign affidavit verifying they have no SSN

NJ

Yes

   

Yes

 

Yes

     

NM

Yes

       

No

   

Secretary can establish by regulation other docs. To be accepted instead of SSN

NC

Yes

No

No

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

 

ND

Yes

No

No

No

Yes

Yes

No

 

If not eligible for SSN need to provide proof from SSA

OH

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

N/A

Yes, if assigned

     

OK

Yes

No

No

No

Yes

Yes

No

Fingerprinting to prove identity will be an option offered to applicants within one year

Will process DL if applicant says they do not have SSN without proof from SSA

OR

No

No

No

No

No

No

No

No

 

RI

Yes

       

Yes

Yes

   

SC

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

 

Yes

No

   

SD

Yes

   

Yes

 

Yes

     

TN

         

No

   

Is linked with SSA via computer

If no SSN must show proof never issued one

TX

No

No

No

No

No

Yes

No

Yes

Applicant must sign affidavit verifying they have no SSN

UT

No

   

No

 

Yes

Yes

   

VT

No

No

No

No

No

Yes

Yes

No

Has accepted ITIN in the past, but reviews applicants on a case by case basis

VA

No

No

No

No

No

Yes

No

 

If applicant does not qualify for SSN they must provide proof from SSA.

Interchange of information with Federal agencies of non-citizens who apply for DL is required

WA

         

Must disclose but no proof required

     

WV

Yes

       

Yes

Yes

Yes

 

WI

Yes

       

Yes

   

Applicant must sign affidavit verifying they have no SSN

Source: state departments of motor vehicles, National Conference of State Legislatures, and the National Immigration Law Center.