Media reports have surfaced that Freely Associated States (FAS) citizens living in certain U.S. jurisdictions have experienced challenges in getting REAL ID-compliant licenses and state IDs.
President Donald Trump signed the REAL ID Act Modification for FAS, on Dec. 17, 2018. The legislation amended the REAL ID Act first signed in 2005 and incorporated a provision allowing states to issue driver’s licenses and identification cards to FAS citizens.
According to the Department of Homeland Security, the modified REAL ID Act separates FAS citizens from the categories of non-U.S. citizens who are only eligible to receive a temporary (limited term) REAL ID- compliant driver’s license or identification card with a validity period no longer than the period of authorized stay in the United States, or if there is no definite end to the period of authorized stay, one year.
With this amendment, DHS said FAS citizens who present acceptable evidence of identity and lawful status under the REAL ID Act should receive a full-term driver’s license or identification card, rather than a temporary one.
FAS ambassadors taking action
The Embassy of the Republic of Palau to the U.S. issued a statement for its citizens residing in the U.S., especially in Hawaii and Guam who have been affected by the new regulations, assuring that they are working with the embassies of the FSM and the Marshall Islands to resolve the issue.
Also, the FAS ambassadors have written a joint letter to the U.S. Departments of State and Homeland Security raising concern over the requirement of having a “valid unexpired visa” in order for FAS citizens to obtain REAL ID-compliant licenses or IDs.
In the letter, it mentioned the Compact of Free Association, which permits FAS citizens to enter, reside, work and study in the U.S. without a visa. Citizens of the Marshall Islands, Palau, and the FSM are covered by the compact.
According to news reports, several of the complaints came from FAS citizens living in Hawaii who have been turned down after applying for a license or state ID. Some of them have been living and working in the U.S. state for quite some time.