In San Diego, crowded parking lots and long, snaking lines welcomed employees of the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) when they returned to work after the New Year’s Day holiday. The first Friday of the year marked the first legal day when undocumented immigrants in the Golden State could once again apply for driver’s licenses after more than two decades of not being able to do so.
While some states are only issuing a temporary visitor’s drivers permits for legal immigrants with pending visa extensions, California is within the first dozen states that have quickly adopted a positive stance in response to the Executive Action on Immigration announced by President Barack Obama last year. The California law is directing the DMV to issue driving permits to immigrants whose legal status is still undetermined as AB60. When AB60 passed, legislators agreed that each license issued to an undocumented immigrant should include a message explaining that the document cannot be used at the federal level, which means that they cannot be used to apply for a passport from the United States or for international travel.
In a car-dependent region such as Southern California, AB60 is welcomed by motorists who know that undocumented immigrants will take to the roads one way or the other. The new law not only provides a means of identification but also compliance in the sense that undocumented immigrants will be investigated insofar as any prior licenses, legitimate or otherwise, that may be on record.
At DMV offices in San Diego and across the state, undocumented immigrants can present a variety of documents to ascertain their identity. Valid foreign passports are the first choice, followed by birth certificates that have been certified and authenticated within the last six months. In addition to identification, undocumented immigrants must also present proof of residency when they go to the DMV office. Rental or lease agreements and utility bills are among the most common documents that can be used for this purpose; others include: school registration, car titles, mortgage statements, payday loan receipts, paycheck stubs, etc.
Proving identity and California residence are just the first steps of the process. To get a driver’s license, undocumented immigrants must still take a written examination, which the DMV offers in several languages. There’s also a road test, which is only administered in English. Applicants must also provide one fingerprint to get their licenses.
For more information about obtaining a drivers license for an undocumented immigrant or for other questions regarding immigration in San Diego, reach out to Kazmi and Sakata Immigration Law Firm. We are professional San Diego immigration attorneys and will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have. Call 858-874-0711 for a free immigration consultation.