California Driver’s Licenses for Undocumented Immigrants: Effective January 1, 2015

Last year, California passed AB60, legislation that will allow undocumented immigrants to apply for a California driver’s license.  That law goes into effect on January 1, 2015. 

The new law also prohibits discrimination against the holder of the driver’s license.  The driver’s license cannot be used as evidence of the holder’s citizenship or immigration status, and shall not be used as a basis for a criminal investigation, arrest, or detention in circumstances where a person with a driver license that was not issued under AB60 would not be criminally investigated, arrested, or detained.

California and the federal government are close to finalizing the requirements for undocumented immigrants to be able apply for and receive a driver’s license.  The federal government must approve the final driver’s license issued by the State of California because all state identification documents must meet federal requirements pursuant to the REAL ID Act, a law that was passed after the terrorist attacks of September 11.  This federal law requires that any identification documents available to immigrants who cannot prove legal residence, to carry markings demonstrating that they don’t meet these higher standards. Therefore, the Department of Homeland Security must approve the final California driver’s license design.

On September 17, 2014, DHS allowed California to proceed with the implementation of AB60 and, for now, the CA driver’s license for undocumented immigrants will state: “FEDERAL LIMITS APPLY” on the face of the driver’s license.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is working on finalizing the implementation of AB60.  The proposed regulations can be found on the DMV’s website at: AB60.dmv.ca.gov.  For now, any 16-year-old with no criminal record can apply to the DMV for a license if he or she is able to prove identity and residency in the state within six months of application.  The DMV is in the process of finalizing the list of acceptable identification and proof of residency documents.

Presently, the list of accepted identity documents include: the Mexican Federal and Consular cards; Guatemalan National ID and Consular cards; Peruvian Identity and Consular cards and the Ecuadorian Consular card. Secondary documents include: official school or college transcript with birth date or sealed school record with photo of applicant when it was issued; marriage license; divorce decree; foreign driver license; ITR; some US Federal documents for asylum applicant; eligible non-immigrant, student, exchange visitor and other documents. 

The list of documents to prove California residence include: rental or lease agreement; deed or title; mortgage bill; home utility bill; school and medical record; IRS or California Federal Tax Board return; change of address confirmation by USPO; property tax bill and others.

For more information on AB60 implementation, visit the California DMV website at: AB60.dmv.ca.gov, or contact your immigration or labor counsel. 

By Monica Guizar | October 1, 2014

Legal Developments