Temporary Visitor Drivers License

Undocumented Residents:  Temporary Visitor Driver’s License (TVDL) and Cases of Fraud with the Secretary of State – David J. Winer

This legal article was published in the leading law publication called, “The Docket”and the text of the article is below.

Temporary Visitor Drivers LicenseFor non-citizens, the inability to legally drive has put many uninsured and unskilled drivers on our roads. When a person needs to drive for employment if they do not have a license the priority of work and family usually outweighs the risk of getting a traffic ticket. In 2013, the law now allowed otherwise non-eligible individuals to legally drive by obtaining a TVDL-Temporary Visitor Driver’s License. To have these people insured and properly registered with the Secretary of State makes our roads safer by increasing the number of insured motorists and compels TVDLs holder to be more responsible and careful. This policy seems to have worked as most TVDL holders are grateful to have the opportunity to drive and do not want to risk losing that privilege due to a No Insurance offense or frequent traffic violations.

This article covers two topics commonly associated with non-citizens. First, the requirements to obtain a TVDL, and secondly, cases of fraud where many of these people previously had a fraudulent license under another name or social security number. The fraud cases usually arise when a person applies for a TVDL their photo is compared in the face recognition software inventory at the Secretary of State. If there is a comparison found, the person will not be allowed to obtain a TVDL and prohibited from keeping or renewing a n existing license. Fraud cases are dealt with the Fraud Department of the Secretary of State in conjunction with the Secretary of State Police.

Temporary Visitor Driver’s Licenses- TVDL

The TVDL allows driving for individuals living in Illinois who are not eligible for a Social Security number or a driver’s license. It is often thought that TVDL’S are solely for illegal undocumented aliens but, they are also available for people here legally who cannot obtain a license such as foreign students, spouses or children of temporary workers, long-term visitors, and others not eligible for a Social Security number who need to drive to attend classes, work, shopping, taking children to school, etc.

A TVDL does not serve as legal identification, and cannot be used to vote, obtain a firearm, board a plane, enter federal buildings, or for any official purposes. TVDLs are only valid for class D, L, or M licenses for cars or motorcycles. They cannot be used to drive commercial motor vehicles that require a CDL. However, in practice, hospitals, first responders, and many others use the TVDL to obtain identifying information such as a person’s name, address, date of birth, etc.

A TVDL is valid for three years, and upon expiration the holder must reapply as a new applicant by presenting new documentation. There is no automatic renewal like a regular driver’s license. The color is different than a driver’s license; using purple color as opposed to red, and are marked “Not Valid for Identification.” Since TVDLs are available to both visa holders and undocumented immigrants, law enforcement officers cannot assume TVDL holders are undocumented.

The federal REAL ID ACT requires that states can only issue a regular driver’s license to those with lawful immigration status. Because they are visually distinct from regular licenses and are marked “Not Valid for Identification” , TVDLs comply with REAL ID while still enabling undocumented immigrants to legally drive in Illinois.

TVDL’s only apply to Illinois residents who drive in Illinois. Individual states must decide whether to accept TVDLs for driving purposes there. Individuals who drive outside Illinois should first determine whether that state recognizes our TVDLs. In Illinois, the TVDL can be also used as a bond card during a traffic offense like a regular license.

If a TVDL holder drives without insurance are stopped the TVDL becomes instantly invalid, and the motorist can be ticketed for both driving without a license and no insurance. The TVDL will later become valid upon presenting proof of insurance to the Secretary of State.


The first step is to request an appointment at a Secretary of State facility. Appointments can be made at Cyberdriveillinois.com, at certain Secretary of State facilities or by calling (855) 236-1155. Applications are available at 35 facilities throughout the state, 18 in the Chicago land area and 17 downstate. Except for Chicago North and Chicago West locations applicants can apply without an appointment.

To qualify for a TVDL, applicants must prove and provide the following:

  • Have lived in Illinois for at least 12 months
  • A valid unexpired passport or consular ID
  • Proof of identity and residency
  • Pass the vision, written, and road exams
  • Provide proof of insurance for the vehicle used for the road test
  • Pay a $30 application fee ($35 for motorcycles)
  • If between the age of 18-20, provide proof of successfully completion of a 6 hour driver education course

At the appointment a Secretary of State official will confirm all the documents, and then a vision, written and road test are conducted and photograph taken. If they pass, the applicant will receive a paper copy of a 90 day temporary driving credential.

After the identifying information has been verified again in Springfield their photograph is compared to the face recognition inventory software. If there is no match the TVDL will be mailed and arrive in about twenty days. If the application is denied they receive a letter that includes a phone number to learn what the problem is and how to resolve it. Reapplication or renewal cannot be done by mail or online and they need to make a new appointment to re-apply.


Those who had previously given false information to obtain a license or ID card will be denied a TVDL and if they already possess a license it will be instantly cancelled.

Typically, this occurs when their current photo is matched with the facial recognition inventory software. I have seen photo matches from over 20 years ago and my clients are shocked but do admit the photo is of them. (For information about false licenses see 625 ILCS 5/6-301.1) Before the widespread use of computer comparisons, these false licenses were usually obtained using a made up or somebody else’s social security number and there was little chance of getting caught.

If a person applying for a TVDL or a new drivers license and previously possessed a false license or ID they should consult with an attorney prior to appearing at the Secretary of State facility as there is a process to remediate the problem.

The applicant should first contact the Fraud Division at the Secretary of State office in Springfield and self report the prior false license. The Fraud Department then forwards the file to the local Secretary of State Police office where the applicant must schedule an appointment for an in-person interview. The purpose of the hearing is to establish their true identity and have the permanent cancellation removed.

At the Secretary of State Police hearing the applicant will be questioned and the following documents are typically presented to establish their true identity:

  • Proof of residency within Illinois for the past 12 months
  • US Mail with current address such as a utility bill, bank/credit card statements etc
  • Birth Certificate from their country of birth
  • Certified translation of the Birth Certificate to English
  • Valid Passport from country of birth
  • Marriage license (if not in English must be translated)
  • Any Children’s Birth Certificate
  • Matricula Consular Card or Permanent Resident Card
  • Visa if a student, visitor, worker, tourist etc.
  • USDOJ Employment Authorization Card
  • Military ID card

If successful at the Secretary of State Police interview the cancellation will be removed and replaced with a one year suspension. Any prior offenses on the fraudulent record will be merged into the new abstract. For the one year suspension the applicant can then attend a Formal or Informal Hearing to petition for a Restricted Driving Permit for work, school, medical purposes or childcare. Upon completion of the suspension, they pay a reinstatement fee and then can lawfully apply for a TVDL.

More information for TVDL’s can be found at www.cyberdriveillinois.com/publications/pdf_publications/dsd_tvdl4.pdf

David J. Winer, is a partner at the Law Offices of Winer & Winer with offices in Waukegan and Skokie. They concentrate in Secretary of State Hearings, DUI/Traffic law and Criminal Defense.

For more information on Formal and Informal Hearings visit www.Driverslicenseback.com