Driver’s Licenses for Asylum Seekers

Last updated on April 14, 2023

The rules about who can apply for a driver’s license and the process for applying are different in each U.S. state. Please read below for more information.

Can I apply for a driver’s license if I have a valid work permit based on a pending asylum application?

Probably! In most U.S. states, you can apply for a driver’s license if you have a valid work permit based on a pending asylum application. The specific rules and processes for each state are different.

In general, to prove that you have a valid work permit based on seeking asylum, it is useful to bring these documents to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV):

  • Your work permit card.
  • Your work permit renewal receipt notice, if you applied for a renewal.
  • Proof that your asylum application is still pending. For example, you could bring your asylum application receipt notice from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or a notice of an upcoming hearing in immigration court.

The DMV will require other documents as well, and you should check your state’s specific rules.

Can I apply for a driver’s license if I do not have a work permit or immigration status?

Maybe! In some locations in the United States, you can apply for a driver’s license even if you do not have a work permit and do not have other immigration status. This is true in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Washington, D.C., Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington. Programs in Massachusetts and Minnesota will also start soon.

Visit this website from the organization United We Dream to search for information about the rules and process for your specific state (Click on “Look up your state”). The website also includes information about whether a specific state has shared information from their driver’s license database with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in the past.

Can I apply for a driver’s license if I have a different immigration status?

Maybe! You should check the requirements of your state’s DMV to learn if you are eligible to apply for a driver’s license.

How do I find out more about the rules and process for the state where I live?

  • You can search for specific state rules by typing the name of your state and “Department of Motor Vehicles” in an internet browser such as Google.
  • You can visit this website to search for information about your state.
  • You can search for local community organizations to ask for help.

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