New Jersey

Undocumented People in NJ Can Soon Start Making Appointment for License

The standard license will not be REAL ID-compliant, but it will allow people to drive throughout the state with legal proof that they're allowed to operate a vehicle

This screenshot of the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Administration website shows a banner reading, "First Driver License/ID"
New Jersey Motor Vehicle Administration

Lee esta historia en español aquí.

After a long wait, undocumented immigrants will now be able to apply for driver’s licenses in New Jersey.

Starting May 1st, certain residents – including undocumented people – will be able to apply for a the state's standard license which is different from REAL IDs, which are issued to lawful residents and are required to access federal buildings or fly commercially without a passport.

The bill approving state licenses for undocumented immigrants was passed in 2019 and was set to take effect Jan. 1 of this year, but the pandemic caused the date to be pushed back to May 1.

Given that May 1 is fast approaching, here’s what you’ll need to apply for your license and be ready:

What documents will I need?

The law requires applicants to show proof of age, identity and residence in order to be able to start the process of obtaining the new state license.

In total, New Jersey requires six points of proof of ID. The motor vehicle department thankfully has a convenient online tool to show you how many points certain documents will earn you. Once you’ve used the tool, you should print out the page and bring it with you (along with the documents) when you go to the Motor Vehicle Agency.

Here some of the documents you might need (which you’ll also see if you click on the tool linked above):

  • A foreign passport with verification from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services or the Immigration and Naturalization Service and a valid record of arrival/departure (worth four points)
  • Form I-688B or I-766, presented with a valid Social Security card (worth three points)
  • Temporary residence card (worth two points)
  • Proof of residence (this can include a utility bill from the last 90 days)
  • A marriage document (copies and certificates issued by religious entities aren’t acceptable) (worth three points)
  • Bank statement (worth one point)
  • Proof of residence (this can include a utility bill from the last 90 days)

Remember, the documents we listed are not exhaustive, and will change this spring so use the state’s online tool to see all your options.

For any more questions regarding requirements and the process, visit the MVC site here.

You’ll need to translate documents that are not already in English

It’s important to note that any documents you bring with you to the MVA that are written in another language must first be translated into English by a professional. The translated documents don’t need to be certified, but they should include a note from the person who did the translating.

People who have a final order of deportation, a criminal record or who have previously tried to obtain a license in another state should consult with a lawyer before beginning the application process for the New Jersey license.

What’s the difference between this secondary license and a REAL ID?

The new standard New Jersey license does not comply with federal REAL ID standards. This means people will not be able to use the standard license to travel or visit federal buildings after October 2021.

A REAL ID will have a star and/or flag on it, or it will say “Enhanced.”

Do I need to take a driving test?

If you plan to drive, then yes. However, the test can be taken in a language other than English.

How much will the secondary ID cost?

The total cost for the photo license is $24.

How can I schedule an appointment?

You can schedule your appointment online through the MVA's website.

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