> This article is part of Documented’s Glossary. We want to make it easier for all to understand the US immigration system. If you want to know more about different visa types and immigration terms, please check our library here.
-> To see more useful information for immigrants such as food or legal representation, check out our Master Resource Guide.
All New York City residents, ages 10 and up, and regardless of their immigration status, can apply for a Government-issued IDNYC card. This identification program, launched in 2015, is the largest in the country.
It allows access to opening a bank account at selected financial institutions, entering buildings, such as schools, and can be presented as proof of identification to interact with the police and other agencies. It provides free access to many museums and other cultural institutions–for a full list visit this link, it can also be used at the New York, Brooklyn and Queens library system.
However, understanding the requirements for the ID card and how to make an appointment can be confusing. Documented spoke to Emili Prado, the service referral coordinator at La Colmena, a community job center on Staten Island, and compiled everything you need to know about how and where to apply for the IDNYC.
How to get your ID card?
Applicants can either schedule an appointment on the IDNYC website or by calling 311 and saying “IDNYC,” or walk into a center directly. Note: walk-ins are limited.
Documented reporters spoke to multiple applicants that waited outside of enrollment centers for hours. Some waited as early as 5:30 a.m. in order to secure a walk-in appointment.
While walk-ins are an option, Prado recommends that people schedule an appointment ahead of time. “We don’t recommend that people show up in person because IDNYC is very strict,” she said.
**Asylum seekers can also get help with the application process at the city’s Asylum Seeker Resource Navigation Center located at 520 West 49th Street.
What documents are required?
IDNYC works in a point based system. Prado explains that applicants will need “at least four points of documents with at least three points that can prove your identity and one point proving your residency.”
She added that the documents to prove the identity can include a foreign birth certificate or a passport. Documents to verify residency can include a phone or electricity bill. See the full list of acceptable documents using IDNYC’s documents calculator.
For migrants that are living in shelters or with other family members in a shared household, proof of residency could include mail at their current address with their name printed on it, Prado said.
People can also ask their family members to write a letter stating they are currently living in their household, she said.
If they don’t have the original copies of their documents, applicants can also use an I-94 form issued by the US Department of Homeland Security, which includes a photo, fingerprint and date of birth.
Prado suggests applicants read the document guide before heading to their appointment. “I don’t want people to narrow it down to just a passport or driver’s license,” she said, adding that the list of accepted documents is 2 pages long.
IDNYC Identification Card Renewal Process
Check your card’s expiration date to know when you should renew it. The expiration date is located at the bottom of the front of your card.
You can renew your card up to 90 days before it expires, or up to 1 year after it expires. You could renew your ID card through the IDNYC online portal. If your card expired more than 1 year ago you will need to order a new card at an IDNYC enrollment center.