In most if not all states, driver licenses are available to non-U.S. citizens, provided that such persons have all required documents and meet other requirements. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), for example, publishes a chart that identifies, by type of status, documents required for licenses. http://www.dot.state.pa.us/Public/DVSPubsForms/BDL/BDL%20Publications/pub195nc.pdf
Please be aware that each state has its own specific requirements. That is, what is true for Pennsylvania may not necessarily be true for another state, and vice-versa.
More importantly, please be aware that having all required documents still might not be enough. A client of mine, who is seeking adjustment of status, recently went to a Pennsylvania driver license center to renew her license. She had all the documents she was supposed to have, after consulting the above chart. However, the driver license center staff told her that she was “not recognized” by the system. After I made inquiries to a department official, the matter was cleared up. It turned out that my client, at the time, had not been verified by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and thus could not get the renewal at that time. However, this official personally followed up on this verification, and later my client did get her renewal.
Be aware that something similar may happen to you. If you go to get your license or renewal, and your state’s licensing bureau is able to verify your status with DHS, then you may be able to get your license then and there. On the other hand, if the verification cannot immediately occur, you might have to return to the center a second time. In Pennsylvania, once verification occurs, the person will receive a letter stating that he or she now is eligible. My client received such a letter, but for her it was unnecessary because she already had been verified through the PennDOT official.
Your own state most likely has similar procedures for verifying information with DHS.
The above information does not constitute legal advice and does not form an attorney-client relationship.
Calvin Sun, Attorney at Law
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