There is no doubt that Texas is BIG. If you’re an immigrant who is living and working in Texas, you are going to need a driver’s license to get around. Can you obtain a driver’s license? If so, what do you need to do to become eligible?
Under Texas law, for a foreign national to obtain a driver’s license, he or she must be able to verify lawful presence in the United States. That means that if you want to apply for a driver’s license (DL) or an identification card (ID), you will have to show proof that you are in the U.S. legally.
All documentation that you provide must show your name and date of birth. If your name was changed, for example, through marriage, or if there are any inconsistencies in your paperwork, you will have to validate the information with additional documentation, such as a divorce decree or a marriage license.
Will my immigration status be verified?
Yes, once you apply for a driver’s license, your immigration status will be verified. Your lawful presence documentation will be verified through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) Program.
While verification through SAVE is usually instantaneous, that is not always the case. If it does not go through immediately, you may have to wait up to 30 days before you receive your driver’s license.
If SAVE is unable to verify your lawful presence on the first attempt, you may be required to provide additional documentation. If you are not automatically verified, you will receive either verbal instructions or instructions by mail; we recommend following the instructions right away to avoid further delay.
Limited Term Driver’s License or ID
If you are not verified through SAVE on the first attempt, you may be issued a limited term driver’s license or ID if you are NOT: a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, lawful permanent resident, refugee, or asylee. However, the limited term DL or ID would expire once DHS determines your lawful presence.
Acceptable documents for lawful permanent residents:
- Permanent resident card (I-551)
- Immigrant visa and current foreign passport
- Current foreign passport with adit stamp
- I-94 with an adit stamp
- A re-entry permit I-327
The above documents apply to lawful permanent residents, but each class of immigrants (e.g. asylees, refugees, and U.S. nationals) must provide different documentation to verify their lawful presence.