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How Can An Illegal Immigrant Fly Within The US? Is It Possible?

No ruling in case deciding fate of DACA immigration program

Magazine, Immigration

The United States Constitution guarantees certain rights to everyone living within the US borders, irrespective of their legal immigration status. For example, legal immigrants, just like the native Americans, have the right to freely move within the US, without any restrictions. However, there are some exceptions for illegal immigrants. They may not be allowed to fly within the US without a valid ID.

A valid ID means they must have some documents to prove their identity. It can be a driving license or a valid passport.

According to the information available at the official website of the Transport Security Administration (TSA), adult passengers must show valid identification at the airport checkpoint to be allowed for travel to other parts of the US.

These documents include driver’s licenses or other state photo identity cards issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles (or equivalent).

Currently, almost every state is REAL ID compliant, which means that any illegal immigrant will not be allowed to fly within the US without presenting a REAL ID.

But the enforcement deadline for REAL ID has recently been extended owing to the circumstances that emerged after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, a REAL ID will not be required from any person until May 3, 2023, for on-boarding a plane.

Previously, the deadline was until October 1, 2021, which was extended by the Department of Homeland Security.

According to the TSA, from May 3, 2023, every person, who wishes to use their state-issued ID or license to fly within the US, should make sure it is REAL ID compliant. It is, therefore, recommended to everyone to make sure their IDs comply with REAL ID. For this purpose, you should check with the state department of motor vehicles about the compliance of any of the following IDs:

  • U.S. passport
  • U.S. passport card
  • DHS trusted traveler cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST)
  • U.S. Department of Defense ID, including IDs issued to dependents
  • Permanent resident card
  • Border crossing card
  • State-issued Enhanced Driver’s License
  • Federally recognized, tribal-issued photo ID
  • HSPD-12 PIV card
  • Foreign government-issued passport
  • Canadian provincial driver’s license or Indian and Northern Affairs Canada card
  • Transportation worker identification credential
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Employment Authorization Card (I-766)
  • U.S. Merchant Mariner Credential
  • Veteran Health Identification Card (VHIC)

Children under 18 are exempted from this legal requirement. The TSA doesn’t require them to provide identification while traveling by air within the US. It has also been learned that most of the time, no one requires an ID at the airport, especially after a court settlement, that prohibits federal immigration officials from checking the papers of passengers on domestic flights randomly.

What if You’re Detained? 

Please remember that an undocumented immigrant can be detained anytime especially when they want to travel via an airplane. So, check your qualification for legal status at the earliest, and apply for the legal status if you think you qualify for it.

Until then, you must store all your family identity documents, proof of good moral character, and the proof of your stay in the US, in a safe place. It would be wise to leave a copy of all the documents of you and your family with your immigration attorney. This way, you should be able to get immediate help if you’re detained.

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