Migration involves starting over through a reintegration process that includes, among other things, respect for the laws of the host country. If you are one of the thousands of Nicaraguans who have recently arrived in the United States and have the opportunity to buy a car, you must first renew your driver’s license (DL) or apply for it for the first time.
In this process, you should remember that each state has different requirements and that, in some cases, you do not need to prove your immigration status. Below, we detail what you need to do in California and Florida to process a new one or renew the one you use in Nicaragua.
They are issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), and in this state there is no need to prove immigration status; therefore, irregular migrants can get them. There are four types of non-commercial licenses: class C for ordinary use, M-1 and M-2 for motorcycles, A for trailers, and B for driving motor homes. The requirements to get it depend on whether you have a license or not.
1. If you do not have a license and are over 18 years old, you must obtain an instruction or learner’s permit to take the driving test. The requirements that must be met are:
- Open an account on the DMV website and complete the LD application.
- Then make an appointment to visit the DMV office to present your California ID card or proof of birth and residency in that state.
- Pay the $45 application fee.
- Pass the visual examination and take a photo.
- Prepare for the theoretical multiple-choice exam. You can read the digital driving manual here. To pass it, you need to answer 80 percent of the test correctly, and you have three chances.
2. If you have a Nicaraguan license, the procedures you must follow are:
- Open an account on the DMV website and complete a class C LD application.
- Schedule an appointment online or by calling 1-800-777-0133 to visit a DMV office where you will have an eye exam, a photo taken, and fingerprints scanned.
- Show the original and a copy of the document that proves your identity, date of birth, and full name.
- Nicaraguans without regular status can apply for LD AB-60, and to prove their identity, they can use their current passport or ID.
- To prove that you live in California, you can present a rental agreement, a utility bill, school documents, bank statements, and other documents that you can verify in this list.
- Pay the $45 license fee.
- Take the knowledge test; if, after three opportunities, you do not pass it, you must make a new request. Here you can review the driving manual and examples of this exam, both available in Spanish.
- Make an appointment to take the practical test, which you must attend with a driver. It costs $9 and includes three opportunities to approve it. If you do not pass, you must make a new request and pay again.
- Once you have completed this process, you will be given a temporary license valid for up to 60 days. During that time, you can drive unaccompanied, and before the end of the period, you must receive your definitive license by mail, valid for 5 years.
Florida requires proof of legal status; therefore, it is not provided to irregular migrants. It is issued by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV), which has branches in all the counties of the state. In some counties, an appointment is required and can be scheduled online. There are two types: commercial and non-commercial Type E, which is for personal use, costs $48 and is valid for 8 years. If you are over 18 years of age and renew or apply for a driver’s license for the first time, the requirements you must present are:
- Valid identification: accepted documents include the resident card or the residence stamp in the passport; Form I-94 Entry/Departure; a judge’s order granting asylum with a valid passport; an asylum application receipt; or a form from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), indicating that you have refugee status. In Florida, they do not issue licenses to migrants without legal status.
- Social security number: You may carry a social security card, a W-2 tax return form, or any other non-handwritten tax form.
- Two proofs of a Florida residential address: They can be a household task; mortgage documents; bank account statements; or a residential lease or lease contract. Florida vehicle registration or title; public service bill; car payment book; medical or health card with address; and other documents you can check here.
- At the center where you have the procedure done, they will give you a vision test, and a photo of your face will be taken.
- Make an appointment to take the class E knowledge exam, which costs 10 dollars and consists of 50 multiple-choice questions about traffic laws and signs. The manuals are available in the offices and are free of charge; you can return them after use or download a digital copy here. The manual and exam are in Spanish. If you approve it on the same day, they will give you a temporary license that you can use while you complete the process.
- Make an appointment to take a test drive. It costs $20, requires a vehicle with a valid tag and proof of insurance, and passes an inspection. If you approve it within two days, you will receive the final license
Nicaraguan American Human Rights Alliance (NAHRA)
When you donate to NAHRA, your contribution directly helps asylum seekers achieve release from detention centers and refugees receive basic survival assistance. https://www.nahraglobal.org/