The N.C. Department of Transportation (NCDOT) today announced that it will soon begin issuing driver licenses and identification cards to applicants qualified under the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The DACA program grants work permits to immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children.
“We are focused on customer service and committed to improving the quality of life for all North Carolinians,” said DOT Secretary Tony Tata. “After weeks of review, study and consultation we’ve found a way to make this right by developing a process that will allow qualified deferred action for childhood arrival applicants to obtain driver licenses, while protecting the rights of all United States citizens.”
The N.C. Department of Motor Vehicles (NCDMV) will begin issuing licenses to those who qualify under DACA on March 25, once necessary training and computer programing changes are complete. The NCDMV will also reinstate driving privileges to the 13 qualified individuals whose erroneously issued licenses were suspended pending the N.C. Attorney General’s opinion and the outcome of the NCDOT review.
The Decision and Requirements
The NCDOT carefully reviewed the opinion issued by the N.C. Attorney General in January and sought guidance from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, which authorizes “those granted deferred action to be present in the U.S. and to be considered lawfully present during their deferred action period.”
“We also appreciate the assistance of our state’s sheriffs, the Department of Public Safety, our legal, communications and DMV staff, and the many advocacy groups who informed our decision making process,” Secretary Tata said.
To qualify for DACA status, a person must meet very specific criteria that can be found on the NCDMV website (www.ncdot.gov/dmv). The qualifications include that applicants be current students, recent graduates (or have obtained a GED), or active military or honorably discharged; applicants must also have no felony or serious misdemeanor convictions.
North Carolina driver licenses and ID cards will be issued based upon the same period of duration as that provided by the federal government, usually not more than two years. Licenses will carry a designation that clearly denotes the limited duration of the license. North Carolina typically issues such limited duration licenses for visiting students, agricultural workers and others.