New Jersey is home to about 475,000 undocumented immigrants. Immigrants comprise about one-fourth of the state’s workforce, and one-fifth of these workers are undocumented. Thus far, they have been unable to apply for driver’s licenses that would help them get to work and school. They are valuable members of the community and yet have been prohibited from getting licenses that would dramatically improve their lives. Until now.
Starting May 1, immigrants will be able to apply for New Jersey driver’s licenses, regardless of their legal status or ability to provide documentation.
This is wonderful news for New Jersey’s hard-working immigrant population. Some of these people have been living and working in the U.S. for years or decades, but they have been unable to obtain driver’s licenses due to delays or issues with the immigration process—which is notorious for being extremely difficult to navigate.
How the Law Helps Immigrants & Others in Need
The new law extends eligibility for standard driver’s licenses to about 400,000 of New Jersey’s undocumented immigrants. It also allows for survivors of domestic violence, former prisoners, senior citizens, and homeless people to pursue licenses, even if they don’t have proper documentation.
The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) will start processing applications at the beginning of May. Both the MVC and driving schools in the state expect to see a considerable increase in license applicants once the law goes into effect. According to a 2019 study by New Jersey Policy Prospective, expanding access to driver’s licenses can potentially generate new revenue for the state economy while improving public safety. A spokesperson for the New Jersey MVC said they expect that the fees collected for new licenses to offset the cost of added expenses, stating, “No one has an accurate forecast of how many new drivers will apply and when, but we expect the revenue to pay for the cost of issuing the licenses.”
While the economic implications of the new bill remain to be seen, our firm believes this is a step in the right direction for New Jersey’s undocumented immigrants. For more information and to discuss your immigration case, call (800) 909-8129.