After 9/11, the federal government began examining ways to increase security surrounding state identification and driver’s licenses, in an attempt to help further prevent terrorism and unlawful entry into and out of the country. The solution was the Federal Real ID Act, a law that was passed in 2005 to set certain federal standards upon all driver’s licenses, which are currently regulated by each state. Over the past decade, states have been slowly implementing the changes to identification and driver’s licenses as part of the Federal Real Id Program.
However, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has recently announced that several states are still not compliant with the Real ID Act. Those states include New York, Louisiana, New Hampshire, Minnesota, and the territory of American Samoa. Travelers in these states will no longer be able to travel with the typical state issued driver’s license or identification card beginning sometime in 2016. They will instead need to possess either an Enhanced License or a passport. The exact date this will go into effect has not yet been released.
In New York State alone this could prevent more than 10 million people without Enhanced Licenses from flying domestically next year. In order to obtain a New York State Enhanced License applicants will need to physically visit the DMV and be prepared to pay an additional $30 to upgrade their current license or pay anywhere from $97 to $135 for first time applicants.
Until the Department of Homeland Security officially demands the change, travelers in non-compliant states may still travel domestically with the typical state issued identification. When the law is officially enforced, travelers are expected to receive a one-time warning, but still be able to fly for the first three months of the change.
If you are interested in immigrating to the United States and would like to explore your options, please contact our office to speak with one of our knowledgeable attorneys today!