Update: New Illinois Temporary Visitor Driver’s License (TVDL)

On January 27, 2013, the governor signed Senate Bill 957 into law allowing non-visa status individuals to obtain a temporary visitor driver’s license (TVDL). In December 2013, non-visa status applicants will begin the process of obtaining a TVDL. Appointments are required. Please review the required documents in the links provided prior to your appointment.

The Secretary of State’s Office will begin accepting appointments for the Temporary Visitors Driver’s License (TVDL) in the middle of November. Please check back for updated information.

What requirements will applicants need to meet to get a TVDL?

To qualify for a TVDL, an undocumented immigrant must

  • Prove that she has lived in Illinois for at least one year;
  • Provide a valid unexpired passport or consular ID;
  • Provide other proof of her identity and residency that the Secretary of State might require;
  • Provide documentation that she is not eligible for a Social Security Number;
  • Pass all applicable vision, written, and road tests;
  • Show proof of insurance for the vehicle she uses for the road test;
  • Pay a $30 fee.

What will the application process be?

1st step (making the appointment):

Applicants will need to request an appointment at one of 25 Secretary of State facilities by going online at www.cyberdriveillinois.com or by calling a toll free number which will be announced in November.

The TVDL applications will be made available at 25 facilities throughout the state. 13 will be in the city of Chicago and 12 will be in downstate Illinois.

2nd step (day of appointment):

Applicants will check-in at the facility at their scheduled appointment time. A Secretary of State employee will check the applicant’s documents. The applicant will take the vision test, pay the fee, take the written test and road test, and sign the application form which will be scanned. The applicant’s picture and signature will be taken.

Applicants will not receive their TVDL on the day of the appointment.

3rd step (receiving the card):

The card will be mailed to the applicant after the application information has been verified. Most applicants should receive their TVDL within 15-20 business days.

If the application is not approved, the applicant will receive a denial letter. The letter will include a telephone number to call to so that the applicant can learn how to resolve the problem and apply again.

Will the Secretary of State still be checking my driving record?

The Secretary of State will be checking an applicant’s previous driving record.

Anyone who gave false information to the Secretary of State on a previous license or ID application must serve a one year suspension before he or she can be eligible to receive a TVDL.

What is the process for serving the suspension?

Individuals who gave false information to the Secretary of State on a previous license application will have a hearing at the Secretary of State. At a minimum, the individual will have to serve a one year suspension period. The suspension period will begin the date the individual comes forward and has the hearing with the Secretary of State.

What is the renewal process?

There will be no renewals by mail or online. TVDL holders will need to make an appointment to re-apply for a new TVDL up to 90 days prior to the expiration date.

Where will applicants be able to apply?

The Secretary of State intends to make TVDL applications available at most of its facilities. (Currently TVDLs are available at only certain facilities.)

Will applicants get a TVDL the same day as they apply?

No. The Secretary of State will need to review and verify the documents that get submitted with the application. SoS will then issue the TVDL from a central facility and send it to the applicant by mail.

Will the Secretary of State have enough resources to implement this law?

The Secretary of State estimates that its first-year costs to implement TVDLs would be approximately $800,000. SoS will therefore have enough money to pay for TVDLs if as few as 30,000 individuals apply (out of potentially 250,000), each paying $30 each.

Is the TVDL valid as proof of identity?

No—and as a result, the TVDL cannot be used for voting, getting a firearms identification card, boarding an airplane, or entering a federal building. However, hospitals, first responders, and others could still use the TVDL as a document to indicate the person’s name and address. TVDL holders could still provide passports and consular identification cards as proof of identity.

Could the TVDL be used as a bond card?

Yes. Drivers with TVDLs can produce the card as bond during a traffic stop, just as drivers with regular licenses can. They would get ticketed rather than being arrested (because they cannot produce bond) and ending up in the criminal justice and immigration enforcement pipeline. Police time and jail space will no longer be taken up with so many motorists who are arrested for driving without a license.

What happens if someone with a TVDL drives without insurance?

TVDL holders will be subject to all provisions of the Vehicle Code, including those requiring insurance coverage. In fact, anyone applying for any license, including a TVDL, must prove that the vehicle she is using for her road test is insured. Finally, if someone with a TVDL is stopped and cannot show proof of insurance, the TVDL becomes invalid, and the motorist can be ticketed for driving without a license.

If someone with a TVDL is stopped, will law enforcement know that the person is undocumented?

TVDLs will be available to both visa holders and undocumented immigrants, so law enforcement officers cannot assume that anyone with a TVDL is undocumented.

Does the TVDL grant any status to undocumented immigrants?

Immigration status is a matter of federal law. TVDLs issued under state law cannot convey any immigration status. TVDLs would do nothing more than enable undocumented immigrants to comply with our state’s traffic laws.

What is a Temporary Visitor Driver’s Licenses (TVDL)?

The TVDL is an existing document that is now available to many foreign-born individuals living in Illinois. Since 2005, Illinois has issued TVDLs to individuals who do not have SSNs but who have lawful immigration status. Such individuals include foreign students, spouses and children of temporary workers, long-term visitors, and others who are not authorized to work under our immigration laws. Many of these individuals still need to drive on a regular basis to get to classes, shop, take their children to school, or attend to other family and personal business. SB 957 makes TVDLs available to undocumented motorists who also need to drive for these purposes.

TVDLs are visually distinct from regular licenses: TVDLs current use a purple color scheme, as opposed to the red scheme used for regular licenses. TVDLs are also clearly marked as “not valid for identification.”

Why TVDLs instead of regular licenses?

The federal REAL ID Act requires that states can issue regular driver’s licenses only to those individuals with lawful immigration status. Because they are visually distinct from regular licenses and are marked as not valid for identification, TVDLs already comply with REAL ID while still enabling undocumented immigrants to drive legally.

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