Illinois starts issuing drivers licenses to undocumented immigrants

The regular Illinois drivers license is on the left while the TVDL that undocumented immigrants will be given to allow them to drive legally in Illinois is on the right.

Signed into law by Gov. Pat Quinn January 27, the Secretary of State’s Office began accepting appointments to enroll in the Temporary Visitor Drivers License (TVDL) program November 12.

“As soon as the General Assembly passed and the governor signed this legislation into law, my office began planning to implement the program in a way that improves road safety, highlights customer service and underscores the importance of license integrity and security,” White said in a release. The program will cost $1 million to implement. “Through driver license testing, verification of identity, and maintenance of accurate motorist records, this law will improve road safety and guarantee that more drivers will purchase and maintain auto insurance.”

An estimated 100,000 people will enroll. But because officials don’t want them all to converge on their facilities at the same time, an appointment system was set up to help manage the high volume of people expected to apply. The in-person appointment process should take two hours per person, with the cost of applying set at $30 per person.
Critics of the program think it has a potential for identity fraud and argue the state should be cracking down on illegal immigrants, not accommodating them. They believe TVDL will make Illinois a more attractive place for them.

To try and curb this, a photo of the applicant will be taken during the application process and then processed through the state’s facial recognition database. After the documents have been verified for authenticity, applicants will receive their TVDL via U.S. mail at a later date.

While none of the information collected will be shared with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, however if subpoenaed by law enforcement the applicant’s information would be turned over. But this would only happen in very specific cases where law enforcement officials were seeking a high alert person that was flagged for investigation.

“I want to reassure the public that my office is implementing this law thoughtfully, efficiently and effectively,” said White. “Over the last 10 months, we worked in collaboration with community organizations and have developed thorough procedures to ensure that the TVDL is a safe and secure document.”
To schedule an appointment go to or call 855-236-1155. Website application procedures and phone operators are available in English, Spanish, Polish, Korean and Chinese.

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