Identification (ID) Acts

Before December 2019, over 700,000 people older than 16 weren’t allowed to apply for their driver’s license due to their undocumented immigration status. This caused many problems, as many immigrants were not able to carry proper identification or even register and insure their cars — both of which are state law.
The Green Light Law Act — Enacted in December 2019 and also known as “The Driver’s License Access and Privacy Act”, allows all New Yorkers 16 years of age or older, including undocumented immigrants, to apply for a standard, non-commercial driver license or learner permit regardless of their citizenship or lawful status in the United States.
Under this Act, DMV officials are not allowed to ask about one’s citizenship or legal status here in the United States. You also do not need a Social Security card to apply for a license or permit under this law.
However, you must sign an Affidavit (sworn statement) of never having been issued a Social Security Number when you apply for a standard driver license. Also, a standard driver’s license cannot be for federal purposes, like boarding an airplane, or to enter the United States.

What is the READ ID Act? Starting on May 3, 2023, everyone residing in the United States will be required to show a REAL ID compliant driver’s license or ID card before boarding a commercial airline flight or entering a federal building or nuclear facility. All states have now implemented the extra security measures required by the law when issuing driver’s licenses and ID cards. The card, itself, must be REAL ID compliant unless the resident is using an alternative acceptable document such as a passport or passport card, or state-issued Enhanced Driver’s License

How can I obtain a REAL ID ? To obtain a REAL ID in all states, you must provide, at a minimum, documentation showing:

  • Full Legal Name

  • Date of Birth

  • Social Security Number

  • Two Proofs of Address of Principal Residence; and

  • Lawful Immigration Status

New York offers three types of ID documents:

  1. Standard licenses and IDs;

  2. REAL IDs; and

  3. Enhanced licenses and IDs.

You must be a Lawful Permanent Resident or a U.S. Citizen to obtain a REAL ID, and only U.S. Citizens are eligible for Enhanced licenses and IDs. Only REAL IDs and Enhanced licenses/IDs issued by New York are approved for travel under the REAL ID law. Standard licenses and IDs issued by New York will not be valid for travel once enforcement of the REAL ID law begins.

What if I can’t get a READ ID?

If you are an undocumented immigrant, an immigration attorney or qualified immigration law provider can help you learn about steps you can take to obtain legal status before the REAL ID law goes into effect.To check if you have a REAL ID compliant card or to see what the cards look like, the Department of Homeland Security has set up this FAQ website:

Individual states may impose additional requirements, so check with your state’s driver’s licensing agency website, before visiting them in person, for additional guidance and assistance.