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MA CDL Denials due to Immigration Status

Massachusetts Registry News

The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles now requires Commercial Drivers License (CDL) applicants to be lawful permanent residents or United States Citizens prior to the issuance of a CDL. Lawful permanent residents of the United States are also referred to as resident aliens or green card holders.

It is the Registry’s policy that a work authorization card and social security number is insufficient documentation for a customer to be granted a CDL in Massachusetts.

The Registry’s refusal to grant Commercial Drivers Licenses to individuals who do not satisfy the above-mentioned criteria is likely based on the Registry’s interpretation of 49 C.F.R. § 383.71, which is the US Department of Transportation Regulation which governs the issuance of Commercial Drivers Licenses.

The federal regulation requires the CDL applicant to satisfactorily prove US Citizenship or to be the holder of an unexpired, valid, and active Permanent Resident Card, issued by either the United States Customs and Immigration Service or the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

The Registry has been denying Commercial Learners Permit Holders the ability to convert their valid CDL permits to Commercial Drivers Licenses, assumedly because of 49 C.F.R. § 383.71. However, a careful reading of this federal regulation shows that it does not apply to those who have already been granted CDL permits.

I read 49 C.F.R. § 383.71 to apply only to new CLP applicants. There is nothing contained therein which would prevent the renewal of a CDL or even the issuance of a CDL (w/o the hazardous materials endorsement) to someone who had been previously granted a CLP.

The requirement to provide proof of citizenship or permanent residency is found in 49 C.F.R. § 383.71(a)(2)(v). It applies only to Commercial learner’s permit applications submitted on or after July 8, 2015. It does not apply to license applications.

If a person was granted a CLP or CDL prior to July 8, 2015 and only seeks to renew the CDL or upgrade from a CLP to a CDL, I don’t see how the proof of citizenship or permanent residency requirement applies. Please contact me if you have been denied the ability to upgrade your CLP to a CDL by the Massachusetts RMV.

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