Illinois announces new legislation for undocumented immigrant drivers

(Senate Sponsor) Illinois State Sen. Ram Villivalam speaks about the importance of immigration reform at the July 1, 2024 announcement about new drivers license regulations for undocumented immigrants. Also seen in photo is Illinois Secretary of State Alex Giannoulias. PHOTOS: Sarah Prosser, courtesy Office of Illinois Secretary of State.

Undocumented immigrants living in Illinois can now apply for standard driver’s licenses, an initiative led by Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias and supported by Indian American State Rep. Ram Villivalam. The new regulations are aimed at making Illinois roads safer and eliminating instances of discrimination, a press release from the Secretary of State’s office said.

Illinois Secretary of State Giannoulias announces July 1, 2024, that immigrants living in Illinois can now apply for standard driver’s licenses, reducing stigma and discrimination.

Illinois lawmakers passed legislation in 2023, which takes effect on July 1, replacing Temporary Visitor Driver’s Licenses (TVDLs) with four-year standard driver’s licenses that have the wording “Federal Limits Apply” printed on them. House Bill 3882 was sponsored by State Senator Ram Villivalam (8th District-Chicago) and State Representative Barbara Hernandez (50th District – Aurora).

Immigrants who have current TVDLs cannot use them for identification, making it difficult to perform routine tasks like filling prescriptions, opening a bank account or applying for an apartment. In addition, TVDLs include the wording “Not Valid for Identification” and a purple-colored banner signaling that the holder is undocumented – even though many have lawful status – which can lead to discrimination. As a result, many motorists have opted not to obtain a license and drive illegally without insurance.

“This is an important step forward in reducing the stigma that our immigrant population is forced to face,” Giannoulias said. “It will also make our roads safer by ensuring that more motorists can legally drive – having to pass written and behind-the-wheel driving tests and show proof of insurance – like all other licensed Illinois drivers.”

Immigration rights groups celebrate the new initiative to grant immigrant drivers standard driver’s licenses.

“Starting today, immigrant families will no longer face restricted access to basic services and endure the stigma associated with the TVDL purple banner,” said State Senator Ram Villivalam (8th District-Chicago). “Offering standard driver’s licenses to these individuals prevents discrimination while keeping our roads and communities safe.”

The views were echoed by other Illinois lawmakers including US Congressman Jesús “Chuy” García (4th District), who said, “My constituents will no longer have to live with the stigma of having a Temporary Visitor Driver’s License and will be less vulnerable to discrimination because of their status. Laws like this show why Illinois is a welcoming state, make our roads safer, and create more equitable systems for all.”

TVDL cardholders are being encouraged to “Be the First” to make the switch to a standard driver’s license. Applicants seeking to renew or replace their existing TVDLs can apply online at or visit a DMV facility. First-time applicants must visit a DMV facility to present the required documents.

Applicants must follow the same process as applying for a TVDL. Those eligible for a standard driver’s license must have lived in Illinois for more than a year and provide a passport or a consular card, proof of residency and proof of insurance. Applicants must also pass vision, written and behind-the-wheel driving tests.



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