Illinois to Allow Undocumented Immigrants to Obtain Driver’s Licenses

Categories: Immigration Lawyer Blog San Diego

Illinois will join Washington and New Mexico as the only states which allow undocumented immigrant motorists to apply for driver’s licenses.  Illinois Governor, Pat Quinn, promised to sign a bill granting undocumented immigrants the ability to apply for and obtain a three year, renewable Temporary Visitor Driver’s License (TVDL) if they have lived in Illinois for at least one year and can provide proof of auto insurance.

This law is beneficial for everyone. One benefit of the law is that it will increase the number of drivers that have insurance. Even staunch anti-immigration activists would rather be rear-ended by someone with insurance than without it.  Citizens and lawful residents will also benefit from reduced premiums associated with uninsured motorist coverage.

California could learn a thing or two from Illinois in this regard. Many lawful residents in California can not even renew their driver’s license even though they are authorized by USCIS to live and work in the United States. A typical situation is when an H-1B applicant applies to renew their visa. The H-1B visa holder may not renew their H-1b visa more than 180 days before it expires, but it often takes USCIS more than 180 days to process the application. Many employers do not renew the visa right at the 180 day mark either.

Upon filing for a renewal the H-1b visa holder receives an automatic 240 day extension, which allows him/her to lawfully remain in the United States for 240 days and continue to work. However, the California Department of Motor Vehicles refuses to renew their driver’s licenses or even issue a temporary license. As a result the worker must rely on taxicabs, friends, and a woefully inadequate public transportation system.