MVS Makes Licensing Changes for Immigrants
Acting Motor Vehicles Services Director Lino F. Pereira today announced three major changes to the procedures for new residents from other countries who are applying for driver licenses.
The first change, initiated earlier this week, requires that anyone from a foreign country whose Immigration and Naturalization Service visa status allows them in this country for less than a year use their license from their home country for that period.
“We’ve been advised by law enforcement and immigration officials that short-term visitors have been getting four-year licenses and then using their driver licenses as primary identification, rather than their INS documents,” Pereira said. Then, he said, people who overstay their visas use the driver license as a key to permanent status.
The second major change will start Monday, November 19. Anyone other than naturalized citizens using an INS document as proof of identity and legal status in this country will be required to apply for their license at one of the four MVS Regional Service Centers. The centers are in Wayne, Eatontown, Trenton and West Deptford.
At the Regional Service Centers, employees will photocopy INS documents before processing the applications. The photocopies of the INS documents will be stored for verification.
“We are planning to take advantage of an online program for verifying INS documents,” Pereira said. “Once we do, we’ll have terminals set up at the four centers.” People whose INS registration numbers don’t match the INS database will receive a notice saying their license could be suspended.
The third major change will affect drivers who are in this country for more than one year but whose status in this country is not permanent. Licenses issued to people with non-permanent INS status will be marked with the expiration date of that status, Pereira said, and that date will be stored as the expiration date of that license.
“In addition to these changes, we’re tightening our licensing procedures across the board, at our 45 agencies and 30 driver testing centers. These procedures will apply to everyone, not just immigrants,” Pereira said.
Pereira explained that because the licensing process has been abused by some, driver licenses are losing value as a means of identification. “Just like motor vehicle regulators in other states, we have to do everything in our power to preserve the integrity and credibility of our driver licenses,” Pereira said.
Pereira also noted that MVS plans to issue new “digitized” driver licenses next fall. The DDL includes a digital (rather than paste-on) photo and a bar code containing the driver’s identifying information. The photo, bar code and a signature will be stored for electronic retrieval by MVS and by law enforcement.
The bid offering for DDL has been issued and a contract should be awarded early next year, Pereira reported.
Acting Governor Donald DiFrancesco supported the DDL, which 42 states already use, in his October 2 speech addressing the New Jersey response to the September 11 terrorist attacks.