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California DMV Prepares For Rush Of New Immigrant Drivers

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A new law allows immigrants without legal residency to apply for driver's licenses. The Department of Motor Vehicles expects more than a million applications to roll in next year.

Photo credit: California Department of Motor Vehicles

Sample of new California driver license for applicants who cannot prove legal immigration status.

Photo credit: California Department of Motor Vehicles

Back of new license for California drivers without legal immigration status. The license cannot be used as a federal ID card.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles is preparing for a flood of new driver applications ahead of a law that allows immigrants without legal residency to apply for licenses. The law goes into effect next year.

Starting Jan. 1, immigrants who lack a Social Security number can apply for a special California driver's license.

The DMV recently released a full list of alternative documents that applicants can present to establish their identity. The list includes foreign passports, consular ID cards from Mexico and other Latin American countries, and a combination of documents such as birth certificate, court papers and income tax returns.

Applicants must also prove they live in California.

The new licenses will bear several marks indicating that they can’t be used as a federal ID card. The DMV recently modified the look of the license after the U.S. Department of Homeland Security rejected the initial design.

The California DMV expects to handle around 1.4 million new driver's license applications over the next three years as the new law goes into effect.

The DMV will extend its Saturday hours at some offices and hire staff to handle the new applicants.

All first-time driver's license applicants must now make an appointment with the DMV.

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