Commencing December 14, 2019 illegal aliens can now apply for and obtain a driver’s license in New York State. Known as the “driver’s license access privacy act,” and also the “green light law,” the act amends the driver’s license application requirements of NY VTL § 502 and the elements of proof required to obtain a NY State driver’s license. The law allows for undocumented, non-citizen New York residents at least 16 years of age to apply for a standard, non-commercial, class D driver’s license. The license cannot be used for federal purposes, such as federal identification or to fly on an airplane. Note also that the amended law does not allow a person to get a NY State non-driver ID card, just a New York State driver’s license.
A major change in the application requirements for an undocumented non-citizen is that the applicant no longer needs to possess a social security number. Rather, the applicant will have to complete an affidavit that he or she was never issued a US Social Security number, NYS DMV Form NSS-1A.
Driver’s license applicants must also show documents that prove the applicant’s name, date of birth, and New York State residency. In order to prove these items, the following documents will now be accepted:
A valid, unexpired foreign passport issued by your country of citizenship
A valid, unexpired consular identification document issued by a consulate
A foreign driver license with your photo, which is valid or expired less than 24 months
A Permanent Resident Card, which is unexpired or expired for less than 24 months
An Employment Authorization Card, which is unexpired or expired for less than 24 months
A Border Crossing Card
A U.S. Municipal ID Card (e.g. NYC ID) with photo
A Foreign marriage or divorce record or court issued name change decree
A Foreign birth certificate name
The documents must be original or certified by the issuing agency and in English or accompanied by a certified English language translation. The documents cannot be mutilated or damaged, and the DMV is authorized to confiscate any documents that appear fraudulent. Furthermore, possessing and presenting false documents is a felony under New York Penal Law § 170, and making a sworn false statement is felony under NY Penal L. § 210.40.
The applicant must first apply for a learner’s permit. In order to obtain that, the applicant must pass the standard written test. The applicant must then pass the standard road test to be upgraded to a Class D driver’s license. Moreover, if a person previously obtained a driver’s license without a social security number, and it has been expired for less than 2 years, that person can have the license renewed without the need to first obtain a learner’s permit by making an in person application at a DMV office.
Lastly, the law provides privacy protections that limit data sharing, including to agencies that primarily enforce immigration laws, and requires disclosure to the license holders when immigration enforcement agencies request data from DMV.
If you previously could not apply for a driver’s license due to immigration status it is highly recommended that you take full advantage of this new law. Driving without a license is an infraction under NY VTL § 509, and driving without an academic understanding of the rules of the road, plus building driving skills as a learner, is inherently dangerous. It is also impossible to register a vehicle in your name without a driver’s license because a vehicle cannot be registered without auto insurance, and no auto insurer will sell you insurance on a vehicle unless the owner has a driver’s license. This new law solves all of these problems for those who are undocumented.
If you or anyone you know is applying for a driver’s license under these new laws and rules and is having difficulty, or has any questions about the application requirements, don’t delay pick up the phone now and give us a call. We talk to people every day who have licensing issues at the NYS DMV, and would be happy to answer any questions you may have.