Temporary Visitor Driver’s License: Illinois gives permit to undocumented immigrants

by Sami Azhari on July 1, 2013

Illinois Driver's License for Illegal Aliens

The Illinois Secretary of State recently announced the ground rules for driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants. In the last legislative session, the General Assembly passed Senate Bill 957, that will allow aliens who do not possess a VISA or Social Security number to get licenses.

The Secretary of State calls the new permit a Temporary Visitor Driver’s License, or TVDL for short. There are some important differences between this permit and a regular driver’s license.

Under the law as it is written today, all Illinois residents aged 16 and older can get a driver’s license with a valid Social Security number. Also, documented immigrants with a VISA can also obtain driver’s license. But undocumented immigrants cannot get a driver’s license because they do not have a Social Security number. This will change 10 months from the date that the bill was signed into law, January 27, 2013. If everything goes according to plan, undocumented immigrants can get licenses starting December 2013.

The new Temporary Visitor Driver’s License is valid for only three years. A person with a regular driver’s license is valid for four years. And that person can renew the license. By comparison, an undocumented immigrant has to reapply each time. No renewal is allowed.

When someone gets a regular driver’s license, they have to show a Social Security number, their signature, date of birth, and two documents that prove residency. When applying for the new permit, an undocumented immigrant has to present proof of residency for one year in the state of Illinois, and a list of other documents yet to be developed by the Secretary of State. It is expected the Secretary will develop a list of documents needed to prevent undocumented immigrants from out-of-state from trying to obtain the new permits.

It should be noted that an undocumented immigrant who drives in another state with an Illinois permit may not be legal. The other state may choose not to honor the TVDL.

All undocumented immigrants who desire a permit must submit to a facial recognition search. The Secretary of State is developing a program by which a computer will conduct a facial recognition test to deter fraud. When the bill was under debate in the legislature, several law enforcement chiefs voiced an objection to the facial recognition software, saying instead that they wanted fingerprinting. Their concerns were overruled.

A regular driver’s license is issued at any Secretary of State facility, and is provided to the driver on the same day. By comparison, a permit for an illegal alien is provided after a wait. Each applicant must make an appointment at a specified Secretary of State facility to undergo the process of application. In addition, all permits for undocumented immigrants will be issued out of one centralized facility.

A driving permit for an undocumented immigrant is not valid for identification purposes-it does not allow the holder to board an airplane, enter a federal building, register to vote, or apply for a Firearm Owner’s Identification card (FOID card).

In addition, the Temporary Visitor Driver’s License is only valid with proof of a liability insurance policy. If a person operates a motor vehicle with the permit but does not have a valid liability insurance policy, that person will be charged with two offenses: driving without a valid license (625 ILCS 5/6-101), and also driving without proof of insurance (625 ILCS 5/3-707).

Download a brochure for the undocumented immigrant’s license in Spanish.

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