Last updated on June 11, 2024

This page has information about driver’s licenses for asylum seekers and other immigrants. Search for a different state here.

Asylum seekers with or without work permits

Asylum seekers are eligible for driver’s licenses in Pennsylvania! This is true whether or not you have a work permit. 

You will need: 

  • a valid or expired work permit, OR a valid or expired passport from your country of origin, OR a valid or expired government photo identification document from your country of origin 
  • proof that you have a pending asylum application, for example: a receipt notice for your asylum application (see examples here and here), a stamped copy of your asylum application filed with the immigration court, a biometrics notice, or a BIA receipt.
  • 2 documents to show your home address in Pennsylvania

Learn more about the requirements and fees in Pennsylvania.

Should I bring other immigration documents that are not listed above?

In addition to your work permit card, it may be useful to bring proof that your asylum application is still pending – for example, your asylum application receipt notice from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or a notice of an upcoming hearing in immigration court.

If you applied to renew your work permit, you can also bring the receipt notice for your renewal application. If you applied to renew your work permit before your current card expired, your receipt notice is proof that your work permit is still valid for 540 days after the printed expiration date.

What documents should I bring to show my home address in the state?

To prove that you live in the state, you will need to bring official documents that show your home address and your full name. Some common examples include recent utility bills (such as an electricity bill), rental agreements, and official school records.

It is usually a good idea to bring several different documents with you, in case some are not accepted.

Where do I go to apply for a driver’s license?

The office where you apply for a driver’s license is usually called the “Department of Motor Vehicles,” or “DMV,” but it could also have a slightly different name. Type the name of your state and “Department of Motor Vehicles” in an internet browser such as Google to find locations and the most up-to-date information.

What if I brought all the documents I need but I am told that I cannot get a driver’s license?

If you are an asylum seeker with a valid work permit and you have all the required documents, we recommend trying again. You can try to go to a different DMV location in your state, or even try talking to a different employee at the same DMV.

Other immigrants

Some people applying for an immigration status may qualify for a driver’s license in Pennsylvania. You can look up the requirements for your type of case on this guide.

But if you do not have any immigration status or an application for one, unfortunately you are not eligible for a driver’s license in Pennsylvania.

“REAL IDs” and Airplane Travel

Starting on May 7, 2025, the U.S. government is updating the list of acceptable forms of identification that you can show to travel by airplane in the United States.

Some driver’s licenses qualify as “REAL IDs” that you can use to travel by airplane in the U.S., and others do not. REAL IDs typically have a star in the upper right-hand corner or have the word “Enhanced” on them.

However, if you have a valid work permit or a passport from your country of origin that has not expired, those do qualify as acceptable forms of identification. You can use your work permit or passport to travel by airplane in the U.S.!

Search for a different state.

This information from the Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project (ASAP) is not intended to be legal advice.