Bill Summary: The Real ID Eligibility (RIDE) for Ukraine Act

August 14, 2023

On May 11th, Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Illinois) and Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pennsylvania) introduced the bipartisan REAL ID Eligibility (RIDE) For Ukraine Act (H.R. 3259), which would grant REAL ID-eligibility to Ukrainians in the U.S. who meet certain requirements. The bill would provide many Ukrainians who have fled the Russian invasion with crucial access to driver’s licenses and State IDs, documents that will allow them to maintain stable employment, integrate into their communities, and build economic-self sufficiency here in the U.S.


Since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, tens of thousands of Ukrainians have made the difficult choice to flee their homes and seek protection in the U.S. Ukrainians admitted to the U.S under the Uniting 4 Ukraine (U4U) program are currently not among the many categories of immigrants and nonimmigrants eligible for REAL IDs, and current regulations in 29 states mandate that all state-issued identification documents are REAL ID-compliant. This means that Ukrainians living in any of these 29 states are unable to access state IDs, including driver’s licenses. The inability to access official documentation has created significant challenges and logistical hurdles, particularly around transportation and securing and maintaining employment.

Some state legislatures have considered or passed fixes at the state level, and Oregon has even taken steps to further streamline the process for Ukrainian nationals to obtain a driver’s license. However, a federal legislative solution is necessary to comprehensively address obstacles that displaced Ukrainians face to accessing identification and participating fully in the U.S. workforce.

What Will the RIDE for Ukraine Act Do?

  • The RIDE for Ukraine Act would make Ukrainians who have sought protection in the U.S. eligible for REAL ID documentation.
  • REAL ID eligibility will remove eligibility barriers to driver’s licenses in 29 states and allow displaced Ukrainians to obtain a valid form of ID that can be used for employment verification.

Why Is the RIDE for Ukraine Act Important?

  • Throughout much of the U.S., having a driver’s license is critical for full access to education, employment, and healthcare. As the war in Ukraine enters its second year, and some suggest the conflict could go on for “decades” – Congress should pass legislation to ensure that all Ukrainian parolees can obtain the documents and identification that they need to rebuild their lives in the United States.
  • Without stable transportation, it is often difficult to maintain employment, access medical and mental health care, and connect with networks of support, all of which are pillars of successful integration into American communities.
  • While all U4U Ukrainians are eligible for work authorization incident to their status and may show their I-94 arrival record to demonstrate employment eligibility, some employers are unaware of this and may be less likely to hire individuals who cannot show a REAL ID or other identification.
  • There is precedent for Congressional action to ensure REAL ID access for specific populations of concern. In 2021, Afghans admitted to the U.S. under Operation Allies Welcome faced similar barriers until the inclusion of a provision in the FY22 Continuing Resolution that made them REAL ID-eligible.