Joseph Law Firm Immigration Blog
Just over one year ago, we reported that a bipartisan bill related to the expansion of Colorado driving privileges for undocumented residents failed to pass in the state senate for the second year in a row. If passed, the bill would have closed a loophole in the law to allow undocumented Colorado residents to obtain Colorado driver’s licenses. Now, we are happy to report that, just last week, on May 11, 2018, a comparable bill introduced in the 2018 legislative session was passed by both the Colorado Senate and the House and sent to the Governor for signature.
Currently, Colorado residents who cannot provide proof of lawful presence in the United States, but have an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) issued by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS), can request an appointment and often wait months to obtain a “special” Colorado driver’s license, permit, or identification (ID) card from the state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). However, the law as it was written left out undocumented residents who could not provide proof of lawful presence but who held valid Social Security Numbers (SSNs) rather than ITINs and, in effect, prevented them from obtaining any type of license or permit to drive in the state of Colorado.
Now, to close the gap and to allow persons with valid SSNs to be eligible for a special license, the Colorado legislature passed the Eligibility Colorado Road and Community Safety Act (SB-18-108). This bill will also change the law to allow undocumented residents to renew or replace their current driver’s licenses, permits, or ID cards online or by mail rather than in person— for example if the license, permit, or ID card is approaching expiration or is lost or stolen. The bill will become law once Governor Hickenlooper either approves the bill or allows it to become law without his signature.
Thanks to the passage of this bill, once signed into law by Governor Hickenlooper and put into effect, more Colorado residents “will be able to … register … vehicles in [their] own name[s], obtain insurance, and renew [their] driver’s licenses,” thus increasing driver accountability and making the roads safer for all Colorado drivers. Additionally, with the enactment of this law, a number of Colorado residents who were previously left without the option to obtain a valid driver’s license and purchase automobile insurance will now be eligible to do so, including certain out-of-status temporary workers, international students, recipients of Temporary Protected Status (TPS), recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) status, and those formerly in non-immigrant status who have previously been issued work authorization and an SSN by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), as well as certain immigrants who received SSNs prior to the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act.
If you are eligible for a special Colorado license, permit, or ID card and you have an ITIN, you may make an appointment* with the DMV by following the instructions on their website at https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/dmv/node/48731/ or by calling them at (303) 205-2335. If you need at ITIN number, visit http://www.irs.gov to obtain the Form W-7 and for more information. If you already have a valid SSN, then you can use that to apply for the special Colorado driver’s license, permit, or ID card with the DMV once the new law goes into effect and the DMV begin accepting those applications.
*Any person who has falsified documents or used a “fake” SSN, ITIN, driver’s license, permit, or ID may be subject to criminal charges and should consult with an immigration attorney before applying for a Colorado license, permit, or ID card under the law currently in place.