In 2024, the process to obtain a REAL ID in California requires gathering documents and paying a fee. The process is quick, but it requires some steps to avoid delays at the DMV office. The cost of a REAL ID with a driver’s license is $45, and for a REAL ID only as identification, it is $39. However, there are discounts available for eligible individuals, such as beneficiaries of CalFresh, CalWORKS, and the California Food Assistance Program. Homeless individuals or victims of domestic violence or a life-threatening condition are also eligible for a waiver of the payment for their REAL ID.
The DMV offers five payment options for processing REAL ID in California: online, by phone, at a DMV NOW kiosk, by mail, or in person at a DMV office. Accepted payment methods include cash at some locations, credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover), credit card debit (Visa and MasterCard), and electronic wallets (Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay). It is important to note that payments with credit or debit cards generate an additional charge of 1.95%.
Undocumented immigrants in California have the option to apply for an AB 60 driver’s license, which can be useful for working in California and as a means to operate a motor vehicle. However, it may not serve as a form of identification in all situations. According to immigration attorney Brian López, the AB 60 driver’s license can function as a state identification document within California, but not outside of the state. It does not serve as a means to prove legal stay in the United States.
In addition to the AB 60 driver’s license, immigrants must have a Green Card or residency card, or a Work Permit Card to prove their immigration status. While it is rare to find immigration checkpoints on the roads in California, near the border with Mexico, there are immigration control checkpoints where individuals could be detained and asked to show proof of legal stay in California.
At airports in California, there is a risk of being detained by Customs or Border Patrol officers and being deported if an individual does not have legal status. However, if traveling by plane within California, it is unlikely that an immigration agent will ask for proof of legal stay documents. If detained for any reason, individuals should not speak to officers or sign any documents without first consulting with an attorney.
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