January 21, 2021

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January 19, 2021

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New Jersey MVC Delays Driver’s Licenses for Undocumented Immigrants, Blames It on COVID

New Jersey state was scheduled to begin issuing driver’s licenses for immigrants without legal documents by the beginning of January this year, but Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) officials announced that there will be a delay due to the COVID pandemic.

MVC Remote Operations Due to COVID

MVC agencies are closed due to the pandemic, stated agency officials who did not mention when the driver’s license would become available. The MVC has implemented many changes in the past few months, including shifting their transactions online. The demand for these services continues to be high. MVC staff was also reduced due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Status-neutral licensing is important for many New Jersians, but the demands on MVC due to COVID-19 have made it impossible for us to complete the training and software changes required to implement it,” Sue Fulton, Chief Administrator of the MVC, said in a statement.

“We cannot conduct the necessary hands-on document training without violating COVID-19 restrictions; in addition, the stand-downs for training would impact our critical operations,” Fulton said. “We are hopeful that we will get past the worst of the pandemic in the next few months so we can get this done for those who sorely need it.”

The MVC Board had to postpone one of their special meetings in November regarding the new driver’s licenses and regulations. Hera Mir, a spokeswoman for the New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice, urged officials to keep the public informed about the licenses.

The Green Light Law

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed The Driver’s License Access and Privacy Act, nicknamed the “Green Light law,” allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses.

The law was set to go into effect on January 1, 2021. According to the law, two kinds of driver’s license will be issued: one compliant with the federal Real ID Act that would let the driving license holders board domestic flights and another that is a “standard driver’s license,” which is strictly meant for driving and cannot be used as an identity card for any other purpose. The latter will be issued to immigrants immaterial of their immigration status.

Fifteen other states and the District of Columbia allow undocumented immigrants to obtain a driver’s license.

The MVC anticipated that this law will extend driving privileges to about 450,000 of New Jersey’s approximately 500,000 undocumented immigrants. “The licenses affect us very much,” said Elias Rojop, who was born in Guatemala and moved to the United States 14 years ago. “We were enthusiastic that a door was opening, but this complicates our life more.”

©2020 Norris McLaughlin P.A., All Rights ReservedNational Law Review, Volume XI, Number 12



About this Author

Raymond Lahoud Immigration Attorney Norris McLaughlin

Raymond G. Lahoud, Chair of the firm’s Immigration Law Practice, focuses exclusively on the area of immigration law and deportation defense for individuals, families, small to large domestic and multinational businesses and corporations, employers, international employees, investors, students, professors, researchers, skilled professionals, athletes, and entertainers, in every type of immigration or deportation defense matter—whether domestic or foreign.  While Ray’s immigration practice is global in reach, with service to individuals and organizations across the United States and beyond,...