As an international law firm for immigrants by immigrants, we know where you are coming from. We know about the hurdles facing immigrants throughout the visa process, as well as the challenges facing them in the United States while continuing their careers, supporting their families, and working hard to achieve dreams.

In this day and age, there is an unlimited amount of wrong advice floating around on the other end of a google search. We have seen countless people miss out on opportunities stateside due to something wrong they read online.The last thing that immigrants need is misinformation that can damage their success in the United States. And while it’s generally good advice to err on the side of caution, letting this misinformation get in the way of your plans would be a shame. Enter DLG.

One frequent issue that we have encountered with our clients, as well as wrong information floating around the internet, has to do with immigrants and their ability to earn a U.S. driver’s license.

In most parts of the U.S., immigrants will need either a social security card or work permit as proof of identification when applying for a drivers license. And because it takes USCIS around 5-7 months (on average) to process work permit applications, many immigrants believe that they need to wait an average of six months to be able to earn a driver’s license. 

This rule of thumb is not entirely accurate, as the requirements to obtain a drivers license varies from state to state. As of August 2019, there are fourteen states that officially issue driver’s licenses and permits to undocumented immigrants in the U.S., meaning that immigrants in these states do not need to wait six months to pursue a driver’s license. 

Immigrants in these fourteen states, which include California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, and Washington, as well as territories Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia,  are able to apply for a driver’s license by providing certain documents, including a foreign birth certificate, a foreign passport, and even a consular card and evidence of current residency in the state. 

U.S. States allowing driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants

For instance, in 2013, the State of California officially removed the requirement of proof of legal presence to obtain a driver’s license.  This means immigrants without a social security card, or who are still waiting to receive approval of work authorization from USCIS, may still pursue their driver’s license through the California DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles).

We advise our clients to stay on top of which states are flexible in this regard, and to not engage in any activity not approved through USCIS, the DMV, or state laws. As in, do not drive a vehicle if you’re not permitted or licensed to do so.

For a comprehensive list of states that process driver’s licenses for people without work permits or social security cards, we here at DLG have you covered. Take a look at our handy state guide for a full list of states that offer driver’s licenses to immigrants.

D’Alessio Law Group is a fully integrated international law firm with lawyers located across three continents. The firm represents leading multinational corporations, tech leaders and entrepreneurs, innovative startups, longstanding production and talent organizations, leading universities, next-level entertainers and artists, and talented professionals across the international tech, corporate, and entertainment industries.

Nothing on this website or associated pages, documents, comments, answers, e-mail, articles or other communications should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. The responses and information are intended to be general and should not be relied upon for any specific situation. For legal advice, consult an experienced immigration attorney.

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