Rhode Island extends driving privileges to immigrants

Rhode Island extends driving privileges to immigrants



For many years, people living in Rhode Island without valid US citizenship have been unable to obtain driver’s licenses.

However, many of these individuals still need to drive: whether to work or school or to help loved ones.

Unfortunately, without the opportunity to obtain a valid license, these individuals are often caught operating without a license. They are then charged with this offense and may rack up heavy fines as a result.

They then have to work to pay the fines, must drive to work, and the vicious cycle continues.

In 2022, Rhode Island legislators sought to break this cycle and passed legislation allowing individuals who are unable to establish a legal presence in the United States to obtain a driver privilege card through the Rhode Island Department of Motor Vehicles.

Despite the recent passage of this law, it will not take effect until July 1, 2023. This blog explains how one can obtain a driver privilege card in Rhode Island so that individuals will have time to prepare to apply for the driving privilege card as soon as they are able.



In order to obtain a driver privilege card, an individual must apply at the Rhode Island Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and bring with them the following:

  1. Proof of filing a personal tax return in the State of Rhode Island for the previous tax year or Proof that they are a dependent on another person who filed a personal tax return in Rhode Island during the preceding tax year.
  2. Proof of identity documents, displaying the person’s legal name and date of birth.
    • Must include two “primary documents”:
      • Foreign passport from the applicant’s country of citizenship,
      • Consular identification document from the applicant’s county of citizenship,
      • Employment authorization document,
      • Refugee travel document,
      • A valid driver’s license issued by another US State within the last five (5) years.
    • Or one “primary document” and one “secondary document” including:
      • A valid driver privilege card or state ID from another US State within,
      • the last five (5) years,
      • Certified foreign birth certificate,
      • Foreign driver’s license,
      • Valid foreign national identification card,
      • US marriage certificate,
      • US divorce decree,
      • US court order for adoption, name change or gender change,
      • US permit to Reenter Travel Document (I-327),
      • USCIS form 1-797,
      • US school record or transcript,
      • US military cards,
      • Taxpayer ID number.
  3. Present two (2) proof of residency documents.

Please note that if any documents are in a language other than English, the applicant is responsible for bringing a certified English translation of such document.

Will The Applicant Need To Take A Written Or Road Test To Get A Driver Privilege Card In RI?

Yes, unless they have a current driver’s license (or one that expired in the last five years) from another US state.

Will Driver Privilege Cards Act The Same As Traditional Driver’s Licenses?

Yes, driver privilege cards will give individuals the same privileges as driver’s licenses.

Is There A Fee Associated With Obtaining A Driver Privilege Card In RI?

Yes, there will be a $50.00 fee to obtain a driver privilege card at the RI DMV. The driver privilege card will expire on the applicant’s second birthday following the date of issuance and then every five (5) years after that. The renewal fee will be $30.00.

Rhode Island Department Of Motor Vehicles Information

As we approach application eligibility time (July 1, 2023), the Rhode Island DMV will likely post an application for driver privilege cards, appointment reservation requests, and other pertinent information. Please visit their website for up-to-date information: https://dmv.ri.gov.

Our RBS team Are Here To Help!

If you or a loved one needs assistance when applying for a driver privilege card in Rhode Island, please contact our office at (401) 324-5200 or (401) 207-0670.