MD Driver’s License Change for Proof of Legal Immigration Status

MD Driver’s License Change for Proof of Legal Immigration Status

As of January 1, 2014, the State of Maryland via the MVA implemented a new process under the Real ID Act allowing immigrants who present foreign documentation without valid U.S. Citizenship and Immigration documentation to get a driver’s license (or a learner’s permit, or moped permit) or identification card.

To obtain a driver’s license or identification card, an applicant will be required to contact the IRS to obtain a taxpayer ID number, and file income taxes for the state of Maryland for the previous two years. Proof of filing can be obtained from the Maryland Comptroller’s Office. This will need to be presented in the form of a certification letter in order for the applicant to obtain an appointment. The applicant must also do the following:

  • Obtain valid identity documents, such as a foreign passport;
  • Obtain two documents that prove residence (for example, a copy of a lease agreement, a bank statement or a utility bill);
  • Study the State of Maryland’s Driver Manual and take the test tutorial online, in order to prepare for the actual knowledge test.

What is the Real ID Act?

The Real ID Act is a federally-enacted law requiring drivers’ licenses and state-issued identification to meet certain standards. Proper identification is needed for access to federal buildings and other facilities and for boarding commercial aircraft. This is required by the Department of Homeland Security.

What is Meant by Federally Compliant and Federally Non-Compliant Identification?

United States citizens, along with immigrants who have permanent resident status are eligible for federally compliant identification. Immigrants who don’t have valid Citizen and Immigration documents can apply for non-compliant identification.

Holders of federally non-compliant identification may have problems entering federal buildings and boarding commercial flights. They will probably be required to show additional identification. Also, they will not be able to use non-compliant identification for the purpose of purchasing firearms. This means that the non-compliant identification issued by the State of Maryland is solely to assert that the individual is legally allowed to driver. The identification, however, is not proof of legal status in the United States.

What Do I Need in Order to Get My Driver’s License or ID Card Renewed?

If you’ve already provided a verifiable SSN, the MVA won’t require any additional documentation. If you haven’t provided a verifiable SSN, you’ll have to bring your SSN documentation to the MVA in order to be renewed. If you aren’t eligible to have a SSN, you’ll need to bring a letter of ineligibility and also USCIS-issued documentation that can be verified by Homeland Security.

For federally non-compliant identification, if you don’t have a SSN, but you held a valid driver’s license before April 19 of 2009 and your license has not been expired for over a year, you won’t need additional documentation, will not have to prove tax filing, and will not need to make an appointment. If your license or identification has been expired for more than a year, it will be necessary for you to meet the same requirements as a new applicant.

There are fees attached to obtaining a driver’s license or identification card in the State of Maryland. Upon qualification, the driver’s license or identification card will be sent via mail to the residential address that has been filed with the MVA.

More detailed information can be obtained by visiting the Maryland MVA website.