Texas is a BIG place, and as an immigrant who intends to live and work
in the United States for any length of time, you need to be able to drive
legally. That said, can immigrants obtain a driver’s license so
they can drive to the places they need to go, such as work, home and school?
According to the
National Conference of State Legislatures, each state issues driver’s licenses under the Tenth Amendment of
the U.S. Constitution.
In 2005, Congress enacted what is called REAL ID, which created standards
for driver’s licenses issued by the states. One such standard included
evidence of “lawful status.”
As of this writing, 12 states and the District of Columbia have established
laws that let unauthorized immigrants obtain a driver’s license
if they provide certain documentation, such as a consular card, foreign
birth certificate or passport and evidence of residency in the state.
These 12 states include a few that are not too far from Texas, such as
Colorado, Nevada, Utah and New Mexico, but Texas itself is
not one of them.
Obtaining a Driver’s License in Texas
In order for an immigrant to obtain a driver’s license or an identification
card in Texas, he or she must be able to show
proof of lawful presence in the United States.
Once the immigrant supplies the required documentation, their lawful presence
will be verified by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Systematic
Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) program.
Examples of acceptable documents for lawful permanent residents:
A resident alien or
permanent resident card
visa and current foreign passport
- A foreign passport (not expired)
- An I-94 stamped with “Approved I-551 or “Processed for I-551”
- A re-entry permit (I-327)
If you have come to the United States as an asylee, a refugee, or under
Temporary Protected Status (TPS), you will need to provide certain documents
in order to obtain a driver’s license in Texas.
Regardless of your immigration status, we invite you to
contact a Plano
immigration attorney from our firm for all the help you need to obtain a valid driver’s license.