Understanding the Temporary Visitor Driver’s License

What Does the TVDL Mean for Undocumented Immigrants in Illinois?

In Illinois, every resident must have a license or photo ID. In the past, if you didn’t have a social security number, you couldn’t get a driver’s license. Then, starting in 2005, documented immigrants with Visas could get a temporary license. Now there is a Temporary Visitor Driver’s License (TVDL) for undocumented or non-Visa status immigrants.

If you’re an undocumented immigrant, a TVDL protects you:

  • It prevents you from being arrested for driving without a license—which is a felony for undocumented immigrants.
  • It prevents you from being jailed for that offence, which could lead to deportation.

Many undocumented immigrants fear that if they supply the Secretary of State with the documents required for the TVDL that it could be used against them. But the Illinois Secretary of State’s office says that personal information submitted by undocumented immigrants will not be used against them. “They will not be using this information to prosecute criminal charges, and the information will not be turned over to Immigrations,” stated Erendira Rendon, an organizer for the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR), as quoted in the Gate Newspaper.

However, be cautious, warns the Latino Policy Forum. Individuals seeking a TVDL could be subject to suspension or criminal prosecution, and/or fines if they have ever:

  • Obtained a drivers’ license using false information. This would require the individual to report the fraudulent driver’s license to the Secretary of State’s Fraud Division. After a 12-month fraud suspension has been entered and passed, a reinstatement fee would be paid and then the individual could apply for a TVDL.
  • Had a DUI (driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs) on their record. If you refused to take the breath/blood/urine test to determine alcohol levels, or if you took the test and had a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher, a driving record was created and a suspension was entered on the driving record. The entire suspension period must be served and a reinstatement fee paid before applying for a TVDL.

Consult with an attorney before admitting to any act that could lead to criminal charges, because this could impact your immigration status.

The TVDL differs from a standard driver’s license in its appearance and in what rights it conveys. The TVDL does not allow you to board an airplane, enter a federal building, register to vote, or apply for a Firearm Owner ID card. It is valid for driving for a maximum period of 3 years, with no automatic renewal. You must have driver’s insurance as well as the TVDL card before you drive. If you are caught with your TVDL but don’t have insurance, your TVDL becomes invalid. This could result in being ticketed for driving without insurance and driving without a license.

Applicants must schedule an appointment to apply for a TVDL. An appointment can be scheduled online or by calling the DMV at 855-236-1155. Refer carefully to the website to learn what identification documents (in each category) you need to bring.

If you have any previous record with the police or have a previous DUI, consult with a licensed attorney before admitting to any act that could lead to criminal charges or prosecution. This could impact your immigration status. Call me if you need legal counsel before applying for your TVDL.

Image courtesy of blackstock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.


This post is also available in: Spanish

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