Passed by Congress in 2005, the REAL ID Act provides the government with specific guidelines and standards to issue identification documents such as drivers licenses. It also prohibits federal agencies from accepting identification that is not REAL ID compliant for purposes such as accessing federal facilities or boarding a commercial airplane.

The act sets requirements for states’ processes of issuing IDs, including requiring states to ask the citizenship status of applicants. Non-U.S. citizen applicants must show they are lawful residents; are under a nonimmigrant visa; or have a pending application of adjustment of status, asylum, or temporary protected status. The act also added that “a federal agency may not accept, for any official purpose, a driver’s license or identification card issued by a state to any person unless the state is meeting the requirements.”