Can I Get a Driver’s License Without Having a Green Card?

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Many people are wondering, “Can undocumented immigrants get a driver’s license?” The basic answer is that a driver’s license without a Green Card is possible in some states. There are cases in which you do not have to be a green card holder or U.S. citizen to receive a driver’s license.

Can You Get a US Driver’s License if You Are Not a Citizen?

Yes, you can get a U.S. driver’s license even if you are not a citizen. Eligibility for a driver’s license in the United States depends on the state where you reside, as each state has its own residency requirements and processes for obtaining a license. It’s important to contact your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to understand the specific identification requirements and the application procedure in that state. Once obtained, a state driver’s license allows you to legally drive anywhere in the United States.

How Can a Non-US Citizen Get a Driver’s License?

A non-U.S. citizen can get a driver’s license in the U.S. by following these steps:

1. Obtain an International Driving Permit (IDP)

If you plan to visit different U.S. states, you might need an International Driving Permit (IDP) along with a driving permit from your home country. An IDP is recognized in many countries and allows you to legally drive in a foreign country. However, not every U.S. state requires an IDP. It’s important to contact the state department of motor vehicles in each state you plan to drive in to find out if an IDP is necessary.

2. Obtaining an IDP

You must obtain an IDP before you travel to the U.S., as the U.S. does not issue IDPs to foreign visitors. To get an IDP, you should contact the motor vehicle department in the country that issued your driver’s license.

3. Living Permanently in the U.S.

If you are a citizen of another country but are living permanently in the U.S., you may be eligible to get a regular state driver’s license. The requirements for obtaining a driver’s license vary by state, so it’s important to contact the local department of motor vehicles for specific information on how to apply.

4. Car Rentals

If you plan to rent a car in the U.S., you may need both your home country’s driver’s license and an IDP, depending on the rental company’s policies. It’s advisable to check these policies and other requirements in advance. Remember, the rules and requirements can vary significantly from one state to another, so it’s crucial to gather information specific to the state(s) where you will be driving or residing.

Can I Get a State ID Without a Green Card?

Yes, you can get a state ID without a Green Card. The process of obtaining a state ID, such as a driver’s license, varies by state and typically requires proof of identity. The information you provided indicates that for identity verification purposes, a state-issued driver’s license or a state ID can be issued by any state or territory of the United States. This includes territories such as Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, as well as a Canadian government authority. 

The requirements for a driver’s license typically include providing identifying information such as your name, date of birth, gender, height, eye color, and address. Some states may accept a driver’s license as a List B document for Form I-9, even if it contains restrictive notations.

U.S. Driver’s License for Foreigners

The USCIS has extended the validity of Permanent Resident Cards (Green Cards) to 24 months for lawful permanent residents who file Form I-90. This means that if you have an expired Green Card and have filed Form I-90, you can use the amended receipt notice along with your expired Green Card as evidence of continued status. This extension can be relevant if you are applying for a state ID and need to prove your lawful status in the United States.

However, for the specific requirements and documentation needed to obtain a state ID without a Green Card, it’s best to check with the local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in your state or territory. Each state may have different requirements and processes for issuing state IDs to individuals without a Green Card.

The states that issue driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants include California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington. In these states, an applicant can obtain a driver’s license by providing certain documentation, such as a foreign birth certificate, foreign passport, or consular card, along with evidence of current residency in the state. This policy allows undocumented immigrants to legally drive within these states, provided they meet the specific documentation and residency requirements set by each state.

Do You Need a Green Card To Get a Driver’s License as a DACA Recipient?

As a DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipient, you do not need a Green Card to get a driver’s license. The rules governing eligibility for driver’s licenses vary by state, and while a grant of DACA does not automatically provide access to a state driver’s license, DACA recipients who are otherwise eligible and who obtain an employment authorization document and a Social Security number can obtain a license in every state.

Most states’ rules either specifically list deferred action as meeting the lawful presence requirement or accept an employment authorization document as sufficient to establish eligibility for a driver’s license. Additionally, like other driver’s license applicants, DACA recipients must also provide proof of identity and age, and meet the state residence requirements to obtain a license.

Therefore, if you are a DACA recipient and have obtained your employment authorization document and Social Security number, you should be able to apply for a driver’s license in your state, following the specific requirements and procedures set by that state.

Bottom Line: Do You Need To Be a US Citizen To Get a Driver’s License?

Some states allow licensed drivers from other countries to drive legally for a year, and others are more restrictive. However, the case may be, an important thing to remember is that without a legal document, drivers can expect to be charged with expensive traffic tickets if caught.

Obtaining a driver’s license while waiting for a Green Card or even without having one is a feasible option in the United States, though the specific requirements and processes vary by state. Individuals, including undocumented immigrants and DACA recipients, can apply for a driver’s license or a state ID in several states. 

For those still wondering “Can I get a state ID while waiting for a Green Card?” the answer is yes, in many cases. Each state has its own set of rules, which may include specific provisions for deferred action or employment authorization documents to establish eligibility for a driver’s license. Therefore, it’s essential to check with the local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for detailed information and guidance relevant to your specific situation.

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