Immigration laws regulate how an individual may enter and remain in the United States. Those who enter the country may not enjoy many privileges that come with being a permanent resident. In California, both legal and illegal immigrants have certain rights under the Safe and Responsible Drivers Act.

The Act was signed into law in October 2013 and became law in January 2015. The law allows Californians to obtain driver’s licenses whether regardless of their immigration status.

Will the Driver’s License Look Any Different?

Yes. For illegal residents, the license will have a distinguishing feature visible on the license. This will indicate to officers and others that the person has the right to drive, but not the documentation to be considered a legal resident.

Are There Restrictions on the Licenses?

Yes. The driver’s license can’t be used for specific purposes such as:

  • Accessing federal facilities
  • Voting
  • The right to work

What is the Goal of the Act?

Until 1994, all immigrants did have the right to obtain driver’s licenses in California. Once the law was changed, the state saw an increase in uninsured and unlicensed drivers. The goal of the Act is to decrease the number of car accidents, uninsured drivers, and unlicensed drivers.

Will My License Prevent Me From Being Deported or Removed From the U.S.?

No, deportation, or removal, occurs when the federal government determines an individual not born in the country should return back to his country of origin. Immigration officials then start the process to remove the individual from the country. The driver’s licenses issued to illegal immigrants won’t resolve any immigration issues. 

Should I Talk to an Immigration Attorney Prior to Getting this License?

Yes. If you’re thinking about obtaining the driver’s license, contact an immigration attorney. This will help you determine what you need to do to change your immigration status.