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Illinois starts driver’s license tests for undocumented immigrants Tuesday

Updated: January 4, 2014 6:19AM

Illinois on Tuesday becomes the largest state in the nation to test undocumented immigrants seeking temporary drivers’ licenses, but don’t expect a stampede right away at Secretary of State facilities.

Officials are limiting the number of by-appointment-only applicants to six a day at the two facilities offering the first tests for undocumented Illinois residents.

By mid-December, daily applicant loads should increase to 39 at the agency’s Chicago West facility, 5301 W. Lexington Ave., and in Springfield, at 2701 S. Dirksen Pkwy. Two more facilities will join as test sites later this month, and by mid-December, applicants will be able to make January appointments at 36 facilities.

“We’d much rather do this slowly and deliberately pace this out so we are doing it right by January,’’ explained Lisa Grau, manager of the Secretary of State’s Temporary Visitor Driver’s License program for undocumented immigrants.

Officials say demand is clearly there. As of Monday, 5,500 appointments had been scheduled through March 4 at Chicago West; Springfield; Chicago North at 5401 N. Elston, and the Bloomington facility. A special call-in appointment line has been receiving about 10,000 calls a day.

At least 25,000 undocumented immigrants living in Illinois are expected to eventually apply for the program.

“Please be patient,’’ Grau cautioned them on Monday. “There’s no clock that’s going to run out.’’

Illinois will be joining Washington, Nevada and New Mexico in providing drivers’ licenses to undocumented residents, but is the largest thus far to do so, said Dave Druker, spokesman for the Illinois Secretary of State office. As a result, he said, “There isn’t a precedent for us to follow.’’

No walk-ins will be accepted. Undocumented immigrants seeking driving-test appointments can call (855) 236-1155 or register online at

Applicants must prove at least 12 months of residency in Illinois, their name and date of birth and present two documents establishing their current address.

They will be given a written, road and eye test and can use any insured car for the road test as long as the insurance doesn’t specifically exclude them, Grau said.

The new licenses should make the roads safer by ensuring that undocumented immigrants who drive have passed tests, officials say. In addition, such drivers must have car insurance by the time they drive on their new licenses.

Written driving tests will be available in Spanish, Polish, Chinese and Korean, and workers speaking those languages should be available at every test facility. Applicants are free to bring bilingual friends or relatives as translators.

The temporary licenses for undocumented visitors will contain the same purple edge as those for documented visitors with visa status. They are valid for three years.


Twitter: @rosalindrossi

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