Information for Undocumented Immigrants Seeking California Drivers' Licenses

Immigrant Legal Resource Center provides helpful list of frequently asked questions.

A 2013 California law, known as AB 60, provided that undocumented persons in this state were eligible to apply for drivers' licenses. These licenses did not become available from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) until January of 2015, after preparation by the relevant state government agencies.

Despite initial hesitation by non-citizens worried about being picked up by U.S. immigration authorities, reports say that around one half million persons have since applied. Around 90% of applicants are successful -- others lack the key documents to prove their identity, such as a birth certificate.

People who receive these licenses need to understand certain issues they may face in connection with the application process, and the limits on using and showing the licenses, however. The AB 60 license does not confer legal status in the U.S., and the card itself makes this obvious by bearing the notation "FEDERAL LIMITS APPLY."

Presenting an AB 60 license can also lead to immigration enforcement efforts, particularly in states outside California, where the police may turn the person over to immigration officials. Although police within California are not supposed to do this to people holding an AB 60 license, there has been one report of a person arrested in California soon after applying, possibly because an investigation into that person's immigration or criminal status had already begun, in which case the DMV can share the information.

And, of course, nothing stops federal immigration officials from arresting someone who holds an AB 60 license.

The Immigration Legal Resource Center, a nonprofit agency, has provided a very helpful list of these and other things to know about AB 60 licenses -- y en espanol, "Preguntas Acerca de la AB 60."