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President Signs Real ID Act Into Law

June 2005
President Signs Real ID Act Into Law

The controversial REAL ID Act of 2005 became law on May 11, 2005, when signed by President Bush as part of the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations package (H.R. 1268). Immigration advocates fought against this act for nearly a year, as it is expected to cause additional hardships for immigrants. REAL ID has three major sections ? one dealing with asylum applications and removal proceedings; another covering drivers license standards; and a third covering border security. Because the area causing most concern among the immigrant communities is the issue of driver's licenses, we will address only that area here. For additional details on other provisions of the Act, please visit our website at

Drivers' Licenses

Beginning in 2008, federal agencies will be barred from accepting for official purposes a driver's license or state identification card unless the issuing state meets new federal requirements. That means no getting on airplanes, entering federal buildings, etc. without an approved license. To meet the requirements of REAL ID, the license must include the following information on the license holder: full legal name; date of birth; gender; license or identification card number; a digital photo; address of principal residence; and signature. The license will also have physical security features designed to prevent tampering, counterfeiting, or duplication of the document for fraudulent purposes

States must also set up systems to verify identity. License applicants must present a photo identity document or a non-photo document if it includes the person's full legal name and date of birth. The applicant must present documentation showing the person's date of birth, and proof of their social security number or verification that the person is not eligible for a number. And the applicant must present documentation of their name and address.

Finally, a state must require evidence that the person is: a citizen or national of the US; an alien lawfully admitted for permanent or temporary residence in the US; has conditional permanent residence in the US; has an approved application for asylum or has entered the U.S. in refugee status; has a valid, unexpired non-immigrant visa or non-immigrant status; has a pending application for asylum in the US; has a pending or approved application for temporary protected status in the US; has approved deferred action status; or has a pending application for adjustment of status to lawful permanent resident status in the US

If a person can prove they fit into at least one of these nine categories, they will be eligible for a temporary license or identification card that will only be valid during the period of time the applicant is authorized to stay in the US or, if there is no definite end to the period of authorized stay, for a period of one year. The fact that the documents are temporary would need to be prominently noted on the card. In order to extend the validity of the card, applicant would need to present documentation of continuing legal status.

States will now be required to verify with the issuing agency the issuance, validity and completeness of each document presented. Foreign documents other than a passport may not be presented. States will have to sign agreements with DHS by September 11, 2005 to use the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) program to verify the legal presence of a person, other than a US citizen, applying for a license or identification card. States will also now be required to use special digital photography technology, verify social security numbers, refuse to issue licenses to people holding out of state licenses unless the state confirms the license in the other state has been terminated, secure the storage and security of license materials, run security checks on people working at motor vehicle offices, and limiting the validity date of all licenses to no more than 8 years.

States failing to comply with the new requirements will be required to clearly state on their cards that they are not valid for federal purposes and they must use a unique color to alert Federal agencies that they are not acceptable. States can continue to issue alternative identification documents ? like Tennessee's driver's certificates ? that state clearly that the document may not be accepted by any federal agency.

Visa Preference Numbers for June 2005

FAMILY Pak/Bangladesh India

First 08Apr01 08Apr01

2A 22Apr01 22Apr01

2B 08Dec95 08Dec95

Third 22Jan98 22Jan98

Fourth 01Aug93 15Dec92


First C C

Second C C

Third C 01Jun02

Other Workers 01Jan99 01Jan99

Fourth C C

Religious Workers C C

Fifth C C

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