As an asylum seeker now residing in the United States, you will need to get a driver’s license to go to work and visit friends and family. Prior to obtaining a driver’s license, you will need to take classes, and pass the DMV/ DPS exams and driving test(s). This will ensure that you can legally operate on U.S roads.
So the question is, can asylum seekers get a driver license? This depends on what state you are living in.
Although most states require you to have a legal immigration status or an EAD (Employment Authorization Document), there are some states that will issue you a driver’s license regardless of your status. Contact your state and local DMV/DPS to check the qualifications for obtaining a driver’s license.
Which States Offer a Driving License to Immigrants?
In the U.S., the following states allow unauthorized immigrants to obtain a driver's license:
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- District of Columbia (Washington D.C.)
These states will not require proof of lawful status, but you will need to show other specific documentation during the application process such as a birth certificate from a foreign country, a foreign passport, or evidence of current residency.
Note: There are states where these laws are changing and bills are in progress, nonetheless, visit their webpage to check for any changes.
If your asylum application is pending, this will not necessarily matter in these states. Avoid providing false or inaccurate information about your legal status in the driver’s license application. USCIS may find discrepancies and may question you later.
If you are not residing in any of these states listed above, unfortunately, you cannot get a driver’s license and will need to take public transportation or find other means to transport until your legal status has been approved.
If you do not qualify for a driver’s license, check to see if you qualify for a state ID, usually, each state decides whether asylum seekers can get one.
What Documents Do Asylum Seekers Need to Get a Driver License?
It’s important to check with your state DPS/DMV on the requirements and documents needed to apply for a driver’s license.
In most states, you will need
- Your Identification (I.D.)
- Proof of residency in your state
- Proof of social security
- Driver's license from the native country (not applicable if you do not have one)
- A passport
Other states are particular and will require other forms of documents. Read to learn more at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Here in the state of Texas, in order to qualify for a driver’s license, you need to show proof of a lawful presence by demonstrating original (not copied) documents to the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS).
In Texas you will need:
- The Application for Driver License or Identification Card (Form DL-14A)
- Proof of U.S. Citizenship or evidence of lawful presence. For Asylees, this is Immigration documentation with an alien number or Form I-94.
- Texas proof of residency.
- Identification card (ID) Card
- An out-of-state license (if applicable)
- Social Security Number (if applicable)
- Evidence of Texas Vehicle Registration (a current one) for each vehicle you own (If applicable)
- Proof of Insurance for each vehicle you own (If you do not own a vehicle, you do not need to worry about this right now, but when you do purchase one, you will need to have your registration current).
Other requirements as a learners’ permit and classes may be required depending on your age. Visit Texas DPS to learn more.
Can Asylum Seekers Get a Car Loan?
Asylum seekers who are granted asylum status are eligible to apply for loans in the U.S. You will need to provide proof that you are a refugee or have an approved asylum status to get approved for a loan.
If your application is pending, banks may be hesitant to lend you money since there is no guarantee that you will remain in the U.S. Ultimately, your two options are finding a private or personal loan or buying a car in cash.
Can I Get Car Insurance While Seeking Asylum?
Every driver in the United States is required to have a driver’s license and car insurance. Getting insurance while seeking asylum depends on the state that you live in. Many states require that you have a driver’s license before you can purchase car insurance.
Unfortunately, if you are in those states where you are not eligible to obtain for a driver’s license, you cannot purchase car insurance. However, in the more progressive states where you can obtain a driver’s license, it’s possible to buy car insurance, but there are specific limitations. Keep in mind, that some states may require that you have proof of registration before purchasing insurance.
Another factor you need to consider is looking for car insurance that serves undocumented citizens such as asylum seekers. Many auto insurance companies serve this population.
Auto companies and insurance as:
- Bristol West (A Farmers Group affiliate)
- Infinity Insurance (A Kemper Direct affiliate)
- Alliance United
Generally, you will pay higher premiums for car insurance than U.S citizens or permanent residents. It's important to get multiple quotes and look for the most affordable option.
Nevertheless, do not let these things hinder you from living your new life here in the U.S.
If you have questions, please contact us at (832) 568-4855 or visit Shoreline Immigration to speak with a trusted and professional immigration lawyer.
Can Asylum Seekers Get a Driver License FAQs
Can Asylum Seekers Apply for Driver’s License in the USA?
Asylum seekers can obtain a driver’s license in some states including California, New Jersey, New York, Delaware, the District of Columbia, and many more listed above. Check your local DMV or DPS to check eligiblity in your state.
Can Asylum Seekers Apply for Loan?
Asylum seekers granted asylum are eligible for loans. You will need to provide evidence that you are a refugee or asylum seeker to get approved for an auto loan. Unlawful residents in the U.S. are not eligible to apply for any loans. You may need to look for a private loan or pay cash for a car.
Can an Asylum Seeker Get Car Insurance?
Depends on what state you are residing in. If you are in a state that allows non-immigrants to get a driver’s license, then you can get car insurance. All insurance companies require their drivers to have one. If you are in a state where you cannot get a driver’s license, then you cannot purchase car insurance.