In June of 2022, the Massachusetts Senate overruled Governor Charlie Baker’s veto, which would have denied the Work and Family Mobility Act. This bill will go into effect on July 1, 2023, granting eligible residents of Massachusetts the opportunity to drive, regardless of their immigration status.

Terms of the Bill

While this landmark legislation is a huge victory for many of our fellow Massachusetts residents, those eligible will still need to obtain a learner’s permit and pass the standard driver’s exam. Virtually all procedures and fees are the same, regardless of the individual’s immigrant or income status. 

What has changed, however, is who the law considers to be eligible for license acquisition. Once the bill takes effect, aspiring drivers will no longer have to present documentation as proof of lawful presence to the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV). As a result, some 200,000 undocumented immigrants will now be able to obtain their driver’s licenses thanks to the enactment of this bill. 

That said, one caveat of the bill is that impacted individuals will only be allowed to acquire Class D or M licenses, which cover standard means of transportation, such as passenger vehicles or motorcycles. 

More information on the different types of licenses is available at these links:

Eligibility

Affected individuals will no longer have to prove lawful presence in order to acquire their driver’s licenses or permits. However, any outstanding license suspensions or fees will have to be taken care of and paid before they can receive their licenses.  

Individuals looking to obtain their Standard Class D or Class M licenses will still need to provide documentation to prove their:

  • Identity
  • Date of birth
  • Massachusetts residency 
  • Social Security Documentation 

There are various documents that can be used for this. Some of them include: 

  • Foreign passports
  • Drivers licenses from any state or territory in the United States
  • Consular ID card
  • An original (or certified) birth certificate 
  • Foreign National ID Card
  • Foreign driver’s license
  • A marriage certificate or divorce decree issued by any state or territory in the United States

All documents that are not in English must be submitted with certified translations. 

The Difference Between a Learner’s Permit and a Driver’s License

To put it simply, a learner’s permit is a necessary step towards obtaining a driver’s license in the state of Massachusetts and all other 49 states. Those interested in getting a learner’s permit must be at least 18 years of age. However, individuals who have completed an officially recognized driver’s education program will be able to get their permit at the age of 16. Those who have learner’s permits are allowed to drive provided that they are accompanied by a licensed driver that is at least 21 years of age.  

Driver’s licenses, on the other hand, enable one to drive whenever they please without the accompaniment of an older driver. Exceptions apply for those who obtain a Junior Operator’s License, and for those who are deemed medically impaired.

Summary

The Work and Family Mobility Act was proposed to help undocumented Massachusetts residents improve their lives. Now that the lawful presence requirement has been repealed, these individuals will now be able to drive legally on the streets of Massachusetts without any hindrance, giving them peace of mind and a higher quality of life.


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