I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.See all posts Frank Gogol
How to Get an NJ Driver’s License as an Undocumented Immigrant
No matter where you are – whether you are in your home country or somewhere else – you will need a way to get around. That being said, it is much easier to get your hands on a driver’s license when you are a native and a citizen – not to mention when you have the proper documents.
Still, what do you do when you do not have citizenship for the state of New Jersey and you are undocumented as well? Maybe you have a license in your home country, so can you drive in NJ as well? Fret not, there are ways for you to get an NJ driver’s license for undocumented immigrants.
Can Undocumented Immigrants Get Driver’s Licenses in NJ?
In April 2021, it became legal for undocumented immigrants to obtain New Jersey driver’s licenses. Individuals falling into one of the categories below are eligible to get an NJ driver’s license:
- Treaty trader
- A temporary worker that is accompanying their spouses and/or children
- Students along with their family
- Exchange visitors along with their family
- Foreign information representatives along with their families
- People that have temporary protection from being deported
- Intra-company transfers that are accompanying their spouses and minor kids
- Canadians that have temporary residence
- Religious ministers along with their spouses
- International entertainment groups or athletes
- People that are part of a reciprocal exchange program
- Parents of people that are citizens of the U.S.
If you are an undocumented immigrant and fall into one of the above categories, read on to learn how to get a driver’s license in New Jersey.
How to Get an Undocumented Immigrant Driver’s License
The process for an undocumented immigrant to obtain a driver’s license in New Jersey is, more or less, the same as it is for most citizens. The applicant must:
- Collect the required documents
- Make an appointment to obtain a learner’s permit
- Pass the state-required driver’s knowledge test
- Pass the driver’s road test
The one step that may differ for the undocumented immigrant is the documents provided.
In general, all driver’s license applicants must provide NJMVC’s six-point verification system to prove their identity. Different kinds of documents are worth either 4, 3, or 2 points and there are particular documents that non-citizens can provide to verify their identity.
4-Point Documents for Non-Citizens
- Foreign passport with INS or USCIS verification and a valid record of arrival/departure (I-94)
- Foreign passport with INS or USCIS verification and a valid Form I-551 stamp
- Current alien registration card (new Form I-551) with an expiration date and verification from INS or USCIS
- Refugee travel document (Form I-571)
- U.S. re-entry permit (Form I-327)
- Valid I-94 stamped “Refugee”, “Parolee”, “Asylee”, or Notice of Action (Form I-797 approval petition) by INS or USCIS
- Valid I-94 with an attached photo stamped “Processed for I-551…” by INS or USCIS
3-Point Documents for Non-Citizens
- Current photo of an employment authorization card (Form I-688B or I-766). Must be presented with a valid Social Security card.
2-Point Documents for Non-Citizens
- Current alien registration card (old Form I-551) without an expiration date and with INS or USCIS verification
- Photo of a temporary resident card (Form I-688)
All of the documents discussed above are considered “primary” documents. Any combination of the documents above that total six points will be sufficient proof of identity for NJMVC.
NJ Driver’s License Cost
The cost of an NJ driver’s license for an undocumented immigrant will be the same as it is for citizens: $18 for a standard driver’s license and $29 for a Real ID. There is an additional $6 fee for a photograph, regardless of the type of driver’s license.
NJ License for Undocumented Immigrants FAQ
When it comes to these driver’s licenses, you are bound to have a few questions you need answers to. Here are some of the most common that keep popping up.
What kind of documents should I provide?
Anyone applying for a driver’s license, regardless of immigration status, must provide documents to pass the MVC’s six-point verification test for the Graduated Driver’s License program. The documents must prove identity and date of birth, proof of residency, proof of ITIN, or a notarized affidavit.
What kind of tests will I take?
Drivers must pass a written and vision test to get a valid permit, then will have three months of supervised driving before they can be eligible for the road test. Following the road test, drivers who pass will get a probationary license for one year, which has some driving restrictions. After that year, the license can be upgraded to a basic driver’s license. Drivers under 21 will complete six months of supervised driving.
What if I don’t speak English?
The Motor Vehicle Commission of New Jersey offers translators for every office and offers all forms in three other languages commonly spoken within the State of New Jersey, including Spanish, Chinese, and Tagalog.
Written tests are offered in the following languages: English, Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), French, Spanish, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Japanese, Hindi, Albanian, and Turkish. Oral tests are offered in English and Spanish.
What kind of ID can I get?
The law allows people to obtain standard driver’s licenses, which do not indicate citizenship status. Residents can also obtain an identification card compliant with the Real ID Act, permitting the holder to board domestic flights and will identify the holder’s citizenship status. It does not apply to commercial driver’s licenses.
What if I have my driver’s license from another country?
You can drive with a foreign license in the U.S. without having to take a test again, but U.S. officials need to understand what exactly is going on in your papers.
Some undocumented immigrants could have their road test waived if their foreign driver’s license is used as proof of driving experience. Drivers will still need to purchase a permit and take the vision and written test.
The license could also be used as part of the six points.
What about undocumented minors?
If you are a minor, then you will be subjected to the State of New Jersey’s requirements for the GDL program. Special circumstances might also encourage you to hire a lawyer, as they should tell you precisely what you need to do.
- How to Transfer from DACA to a Green Card
- Can DACA Recipients Travel?
- Health Insurance for DACA Recipients
- Everything You Need to Know About Advance Parole for DACA
- DACA Renewal Checklist
Even if you are an undocumented immigrant, there is still the option for you to get a driver’s license in New Jersey – and you may begin preparing for it right now. Granted, you might have to wait a bit, but once everything is set in order and the bill goes into effect, you should be able to get your driver’s license. Keep a close eye on the latest news and prepare yourself beforehand if you want your NJ driver’s license for undocumented immigrants.