Real IDs for Immigrants

While the federal government keeps extending the deadlines for all travelers to have a Real ID, the time will come when people 19 and older will not be able to pass through airport security and board a plane without having a Real ID or equivalent identification. Real IDs will also be needed to gain entrance into federal buildings, including courthouses. As of January 2020, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reported that about 181 million people in the United States still needed to obtain Real IDs from their states, and this can be a complicated matter for some immigrants.

Documentation Needed to Get a Real ID

You cannot simply walk into an Indiana BMV office and expect to obtain a Real ID by showing your driver’s license. Instead, you must present proof of the following:

  • Your identity
  • Any name changes
  • Lawful status in the United States
  • Social Security number
  • Indiana residency

Many of these documents might be difficult for non-immigrants to obtain, and it can be even more difficult for some immigrants – even if they are lawful permanent residents or have been naturalized. 

Undocumented Immigrants

Indiana is not currently one of the 14 states that allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses. Earlier this year, the state legislature was reviewing a proposed bill that would allow undocumented immigrants this opportunity, but it still would not help such individuals obtain a Real ID. Without a Real ID, people facing immigration hearing, such as potential removal proceedings, might not even be able to gain access to the courthouse without a Real ID, which might cause serious problems. 

Documented Immigrants

Even if certain people have a green card or have become a U.S. citizen, they still might have a difficult time obtaining a Real ID. First, applying for a passport is costly for many people, which leads to many new U.S. citizens to skip this step. Immigrants might not have access to a birth certificate or Consular Report of Foreign Birth. People who derived citizenship from a parent’s naturalization when they were a minor might not have a Certificate of Citizenship to present. 

In addition, you must prove your residence in Indiana to obtain a Real ID, and this can be challenging for many people. If you live with family or friends, you married a U.S. citizen who already had a home established, or you otherwise do not have a stable living arrangement, it might be impossible to provide proof of your address.

If you cannot obtain a Real ID, you can renew a driver’s license that will be marked with “federal limits apply.” Often, this might appear to law enforcement as a “red flag” about your immigration status, and you might face complications as a result.

Contact a Trusted Indiana Immigration Lawyer for Assistance

There are questions about whether Real IDs will keep us safer or simply cause additional challenges and hurdles for immigrants in the U.S. If you have questions about any type of immigration matter, speak with the law firm of Arshad, Pangere & Warring. Contact us to learn more from an Indiana immigration attorney.

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