Effective January 1, 2021, Virginia Code section 46.2-328.3 was amended, in part, to say:
“Upon application of any person who does not meet the requirements for a driver’s license or permit under subsection A or B of 46.2-328.1, the Department may issue to the applicant a driver’s privilege card or permit if the Department determines that the applicant (i) has reported income and deductions from Virginia sources, as defined in 58.1-302, or been claimed as a dependent, on an individual income tax return filed with the Commonwealth in the preceding 12 months and (ii) is not in violation of the insurance requirements set forth in Article 8 (46.2-705 et seq.) of Chapter 6. . . An applicant for a driver privilege card or permit shall not be required to present proof of legal presence in the United States. . .”
The DMV website explains the primary purpose of the driver privilege card as follows:
“A driver privilege card is a driving credential for individuals who are non-US citizens and cannot meet Virginia’s legal presence requirement, making them ineligible to receive a standard or REAL ID-complaint driver’s license in Virginia.”
The driver privilege card is not REAL ID compliant and therefore can not be used to board commercial flights, enter secure federal facilities, or military bases.
To obtain a driver privilege card you must show several forms of identification to the DMV. You can go to the Virginia DMV website for a full list of documents that you could show them to establish your identity.
There are two lists of approved documents, List A and List B. You must show at least one form of identification from list A and then a second form of identification from List B or List A. Some of the forms of ID on the lists are foreign passport, consular identification document issued by country of citizenship, US Customs and Border Protection FAST card, Employment Authorization Document, official birth certificate by foreign country, marriage certificate, or divorce decree.
The applicant is permitted to show expired identification so long as it expired within the last five years. You must show proof of Virginia residency, which could include postmarked mail, official correspondence from a government entity, or a billing statement from a recognizable business or government agency.
The applicant must show proof of social security number or taxpayer identification number.
Among other documents accepted, this can be done by showing a paystub or W2 form with the taxpayer’s number. The applicant must also show proof that they pay Virginia taxes or are a dependent of a Virginia taxpayer. The applicant can show a recent Virginia Resident Tax Form, a Part-Year Resident Income Tax Form, or a Virginia Non-Resident Income Tax Return form.
For privacy purposes, if you obtain a driver’s privilege card, you are not required to have your actual address on the face of the card if you provide another Virginia address where you can receive mail.
The issue of whether undocumented workers should receive driver’s licenses has been hotly debated for many decades. Many states have passed laws that grant driving privileges to undocumented workers. Those that advocate for issuing driver’s license to illegal immigrants claim that it is for public safety. They argue that having illegal immigrants licensed gives the state the ability to train them in safe driving habits. Other benefits may include the police being able to identify people at the scene of an accident more quickly and undocumented workers being able to obtain auto insurance.
The folks that are against issuing driver privilege cards to undocumented workers claim that doing so will send the wrong message and encourage more undocumented workers to come. They claim that giving them special privileges, like a driver’s privilege card, makes them feel more comfortable here, thus inviting them to stay longer or encourage their friends and family to come to the U.S. without following the normal, lengthy immigration process.
In summary, for an undocumented worker to obtain a driver’s privilege card in Virginia he must show (1) at least two forms of identification, (2) proof of Virginia residency, (3) a social security number or taxpayer identification number, and (4) proof that he filed taxes in Virginia within the past 12 months. An undocumented worker that can show all the above documents is likely employed and driving an automobile on the roads anyway, even without a license, at least to get back and forth to work.
One advantage to issuing driver’s privilege cards to undocumented workers is that they can now obtain auto insurance. Many undocumented workers will choose to drive even if they cannot obtain a driver’s license, this puts everyone at greater financial risk because no license means no auto insurance. If you are in an automobile accident with an undocumented worker, you may prefer that he have a driver’s privilege card and auto insurance to help cover your damages. Hopefully, this new law will encourage undocumented workers, at a minimum, to get a driver’s privilege card, thus enabling them to obtain auto insurance.