A blog about U.S. immigration matters by Paul Szeto, a former INS attorney and an experienced immigration lawyer. We serve clients in all U.S. states and overseas countries. (All information is not legal advice and is subject to change without prior notice.)

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Wednesday, May 5, 2021

REAL ID Requirement Delayed 19 Months Until May 3, 2023

Enforcement of the federal Real ID standard has been pushed 19 months from October 1, 2021 to May 3, 2023.

The REAL ID Act is a set of minimum standards required of IDs to allow entry into domestic travel aircraft, federal facilities, and nuclear power plants, among other "official purpose" facilities. It serves to standardize ID requirements across all states and territories. If a state ID or driver's license does not meet these REAL ID requirements, then it cannot be used for the aforementioned purposes. 

The delay to May 3, 2023 is because while all states and four out of five territories have updated their driver's licenses to meet the REAL ID standards, many people have not been able to get their updated license. This is largely due to the pandemic affecting facilities that issue these new licenses. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) estimates that only 43% of state-issued licenses are REAL ID compliant. 

The REAL ID standard is especially important for anyone applying for immigration benefits. Federal facilities include USCIS offices, which many applicants must visit for biometrics and interview purposes.  Missing one of these USCIS appointments can mean denial of an application. It is currently difficult to get an appointment for these license-issuing facilities. This 19 month push comes as a relief to many.

Hopefully, 19 months will be enough time for the pandemic to subside and for license-issuing operations to resume at normal efficiency. 

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