County Clerks Criticize Foreign Document Rules Set By Green Light Law

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ITHACA, NY (WSKG) – The new Green Light Law in New York allows any non-citizen to apply for a standard driver’s license, regardless of immigration status. It went into effect this week. But, some county clerks criticize the changes to allowable proofs of identity

Photo: New York Division Motor Vehicles

Photo: New York Divsion Motor Vehicles

Elizabeth Larkin is the county clerk of Cortland County. It’s home to SUNY Cortland which—like many other universities in the region—has foreign-born faculty and students.  

Larkin said those people have always been able to apply for a standard driver’s license, but the new law expands the list of acceptable foreign documents. 

“We never took expired documents—foreign documents—before,” she said. Now they can accept documents up to two years expired. “Where before we couldn’t even take it if it was valid.”

The DMV website states that the documents must have a “certified English language translation” but Larkin said that requirement does not reassure her.

You can have it transcribed and somebody has to certify it, but the person who certified it doesn’t have to be present,” she said. “I mean, it could be some Joe-Schmoe in the parking lot. We don’t know.”

DMV spokesperson, Lisa Koumjian confirmed that they “will accept an English translation that has been signed by the person translating the document certifying its accuracy.”