Can you get a driver’s license without immigration status?

Written by: Valentina Quintero
Paralegal, Hansen Law Firm

One of the top questions an Immigration attorney gets asked repeatedly is always “Can I get a Drivers License? ”, and the answer, as most legal answers go, is always “it depends”. Some individuals awaiting approval of their I-485 are eligible to obtain a Drivers License depending on the state they’re in.
For the most part, states require specific documentation and requirements in order to be issued an official license. Most states require that the applicant be a U.S. Citizen or Resident. However, some states have allowed non-citizens to be issued a temporary license depending on their current immigration status.
In Florida, the DMV will accept the following documents as sufficient required documentation to issue a drivers license:
If you have an approved I-130 or I-140 you can obtain a drivers license in Florida by submitting the following:
–       Valid Passport or other acceptable USCIS document
–       I-797 showing approved I-130 or Approved I-140
–       I-797 for I-485 (I-485 Receipt Notice)
When issued a drivers license under this subcategory, you will need to renew your license every year as the license is only valid for one year from the date of issuance.
There are some exceptions to the requirement of an approved I-140 or I-130. The immigration classifications without an approved I-140 or I-130 still need to prove prior approval of a valid immigration status, for example:
●      Asylees
●      Refugees
●      K-1 classification (Fiancée of U.S. Citizen)
●      Humanitarian I-797 petitions such as the I-360, i.e., Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) or
●      Any other documents showing that the applicant’s prior approved immigration classification allows
●      filing for adjustment of status without the approved I-130 or the I-140.
It is important to note that you cannot present a pending I-485 Receipt Notice (I-797) as a standalone document to obtain a drivers license. Essentially, the pending I-485 is letting the DMV know that you are in the midst of obtaining a green card and the other required documents (approval notice of immigration classification) is your eligibility for a green card.
If you think you fall under any of these categories, contact an experienced Immigration attorney and see if you qualify to get a drivers license.

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