Green Light Law goes into effect in NY on Monday

Jennifer Lewke
Updated: December 10, 2019 05:17 PM
Created: December 10, 2019 04:57 PM

(WHEC) — Starting Monday, DMV offices across the state will begin issuing drivers licenses to undocumented immigrants.  

The Green Light law has been and continues to be controversial as a number of local county clerks tell News10NBC they are still concerned with how it will be enforced.


Under the law, DMV offices will be required to issue a standard license or permit regardless of a person’s citizenship or lawful status in the United States. The licenses are for use in New York State only, they cannot be used for nationwide travel or commercial purposes.  

The applicant must present an unexpired passport from their country of citizenship or an unexpired ID document issued by the consulate in that country. Valid foreign driver’s licenses will also be accepted. 

The applicant must also provide proof of New York residency.  

A concern that Clerks have had since the bill was passed back in June was how their frontline employees at the DMV would be able to know whether the documents provided are authentic.  

Monroe County Clerk Adam Bello says he’s been working with his employees since then to ensure they are prepared.

“Last week, the New York State DMV gave us all the new guidelines and requirements for these license types,” Bello said.

Wayne County Clerk Mike Jankowski tells News10NBC that he believes the training from the DMV is coming very late and has been grossly inadequate and slipshod. 

Jankowski says there are huge gaps and questions in how frontline people will authenticate, read and understand documents, and he believes the state is ramming the Green Light Law through and it’s not well-thought-out.  

Bello says when and if there is uncertainty about the documents presented, it’ll fall on the state to authenticate. 

“New York State has supplied us with scanners that we can scan in different types of documents,” he said.

But Ontario County Clerk Matthew Hoose tells News10NBC his office has only received one piece of equipment and says the training has been “very limited.”

In a statement, Lisa Koumjian, the Assistant Commissioner of Communications from the NYS DMV tells News10NBC: 

“The implementation date of the Green Light Law is mandated by statute, not the DMV.  We invite any county clerk who feels inadequately prepared to implement the law on December 16 to contact us so we can provide further instruction or clarification. The law applies to only one license transaction and the DMV is not creating a new license or overhauling the current process. The DMV has implemented the Green Light Law in a way that is consistent with our tried-and-true method of validating someone’s name using multiple proofs. Per the law, we will be accepting additional proof documents from customers and we are providing easy-to-use tools, such as document authentication devices and resource guides, to both state and county DMV staff to assist them. Furthermore, our staff is providing hands-on training when the document authentication devices are installed, and we have offered two comprehensive training sessions and provided a recording of the training webinar and training materials to county clerks for their own use. They were also invited to an additional webinar where the DMV answered outstanding questions, and we will continue to answer questions as they come in.”

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