How Can You Obtain A Driver’s License?

By Published On: April 24, 2023Categories: Vlog, Immigration

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How Can You Obtain A Driver’s License?

Pursuing a driver’s license as an immigrant has long been a topic of discussion due to its pivotal role in fostering independence and freedom, whether for newcomers or novices. In 2020 alone, the United States housed approximately 10.5 million undocumented immigrants, constituting roughly 25% of the overall migrant populace.

These individuals arrive on American shores with aspirations of crafting a life brimming with possibilities for themselves and their loved ones. However, the stark reality they confront upon arrival is that realizing this dream necessitates substantial toil—a reality where the American dream often morphs into an unforeseen ordeal.

Navigating the process within the Texas region can be perplexing, but this article endeavors to illuminate the path to acquiring a driver’s license comprehensively. Covering everything from Work Permits to family petitions, it equips you with the knowledge essential to take the wheel confidently.

Achieve A Driver's License With Assistance From A Texas-Based Immigration Attorney

Navigate Complexities In Obtaining A Driver’s License

Securing a driver’s license can be a complex endeavor, even for those who have a prima facie. Navigating the maze of requisites and regulations often triggers confusion. However, untangling the essential steps and compiling the necessary documents can significantly simplify the journey.

If you’re contending with employment prospects and possess a prima facie document, you might ponder its impact on obtaining a driver’s license. Suppose you embark on a VAWA application journey, secure a driving-related job, and attain a prima facie decision. Could this combination expedite the licensing procedure? Delve further into the advantages conferred by prima facie status and Work Permits within the framework of VAWA proceedings.

Understanding Prima Facie

When someone receives a “prima facie,” it indicates that their VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) application is pending. It also means that immigration authorities have conducted a preliminary review, confirming that all necessary documents have been submitted.

However, it’s crucial to understand that this doesn’t guarantee approval of the case or imply that a final decision has been made. Instead, it signifies that there are no apparent missing documents. Typically, individuals receive this status about three or four months after applying.

Now, the question arises: Can having a prima facie document help in obtaining a driver’s license? The answer depends on the state. In some states, this document can be used as part of the process to obtain a driver’s license. However, in Texas, it doesn’t directly assist in obtaining a driver’s license.

In Texas, the key requirement for obtaining a driver’s license is having a Work Permit. This Work Permit is typically issued when an individual applies for residency concurrently with their VAWA application. While waiting for the decision on their case, immigration authorities issue the Work Permit.

However, it’s important to note that in Texas, you cannot obtain a Work Permit separately without applying for residency through the VAWA process.

Therefore, in this particular case, if you are in Texas, you will need to wait for your VAWA application to be approved, and then apply for your Work Permit. Once you have the Work Permit, you can proceed to obtain a driver’s license. The process varies from state to state, so it’s essential to be aware of the specific requirements and procedures in your state when dealing with immigration-related matters and driver’s licenses.

Relevance Of Work Permit

Getting a driver’s license in Texas depends on having legal status in the state for a certain period. It is regardless of whether you’re a resident or citizen. To understand the process, you need to know about Employment Authorization Documents (EAD), which are Work Permits. These documents show that you are legally allowed to work in the United States.

In Texas, getting a driver’s license often involves showing a valid Work Permit as part of the documentation process. This requirement ensures that you meet the necessary legal conditions before getting a driver’s license. It helps establish your identity and legal presence in the area.

Obtaining A  Driver’s License Through  Different Visas

Acquiring a driver’s license is paramount for individuals establishing themselves in a foreign nation, regardless of their visa classification—whether family-based or humanitarian. Pursuing a driver’s license can entail complexities, as requirements differ based on the specific visa type. Navigating these intricacies is essential for a seamless process.

Through Humanitarian Visa

You can typically receive work authorization with a Work Permit as part of the package. If you possess a Work Permit, you can initiate the application process. You can use your Work Permit and social security number to acquire your driver’s license.

Humanitarian visas encompass options like the U visa, T visa, and, in this instance, the VAWA visa—these fall within the category of humanitarian visas. However, asylum eligibility hinges on factors such as whether you’re involved in the deportation process, pursuing an affirmative court case, or pursuing a defensive application.

Through Family-Based Immigration

Getting a driver’s license in Texas through a family petition can be viable for those with close U.S. citizen relatives. This process allows individuals to obtain legal status and eventually apply for a driver’s license.

If someone is petitioning for a family member to obtain residency in the United States, they typically apply for a Work Permit when applying for residency. Once the Work Permit is issued, it can be used to apply for a driver’s license. However, if the application is made from outside the United States, the person usually can’t obtain a driver’s license yet. They must wait until their family petition is approved, which can take a longer time.

Individuals seeking residency within the United States through their application are granted the authorization to apply for a Work Permit subsequently. This Work Permit serves as the gateway to securing a driver’s license.

However, if this permit is utilized outside the United States, the process entails navigating the consulate channels. A driver’s license is attained upon the approval of their family petition application. After receiving approval, you will receive an Employment Authorization Document allowing you to work legally in the United States. You can also apply for a Social Security Number (SSN).

Through A Tourist Visa

Foreigners who enter the United States with a tourist visa often have a limited period. During this period, they can drive with their foreign driver’s license without issues. In Texas, for example, the duration is typically one year. After this time, they are generally required to obtain a Texas driver’s license if they plan to continue driving in the state.

Getting a driver’s license is important for people living in foreign countries because it gives them the freedom to move around on their own. Some people mistakenly think they have to change their tourist visa to a different type in order to drive legally in the host country. However, there are situations where you can get a driver’s license while still on a tourist visa.

A driver’s license can also serve as official identification, useful in interactions with law enforcement and comparable situations. Driving without a license carries consequences, ranging from possible arrest to ticketing. The act may not warrant deportation, but it can lead to apprehension by the authorities.

In certain situations, the procedure involves providing fingerprints to confirm one’s innocence in nationwide criminal activities. However, this scenario presents a challenge—when interacting with the police, the potential for involvement by ICE emerges. Driving without a license is not inherently a deportable offense. Yet, lacking legal status at any point can result in the initiation of deportation proceedings.

Role Of An Immigration Attorney

Obtain Your Driver's License With The Guidance Of A Texas Immigration Lawyer

The journey to obtain a driver’s license in Texas can be intricate, underlining the indispensable role of legal professionals in ensuring compliance with all prerequisites. Immigration lawyers are pivotal in guiding and navigating non-citizens through the legal intricacies of acquiring a driver’s license.

Their key responsibility involves ensuring that clients meet the eligibility criteria stipulated by the Texas Department of Public Safety. A comprehensive assessment of clients’ documentation, including proof of identity, residency, and legal presence in the United States, forms a cornerstone of their work.

Moreover, immigration attorneys offer invaluable assistance to those encountering challenges or complexities during the application process. This encompasses situations where individuals have prior criminal records or have faced license denials.

Immigration attorneys meticulously evaluate the distinct circumstances, pinpoint potential barriers, and offer guidance on optimal strategies to overcome these hurdles. Their experience and skills prove instrumental in smoothing individuals’ paths, addressing legal intricacies, and enabling the successful acquisition of a driver’s license.


Obtaining a Texas driver’s license with a Work Permit, humanitarian visa, or family petition requires following specific rules. It’s essential to understand the needed documents, application steps, and eligibility set by the Texas Department of Public Safety. By carefully following these instructions and providing the required paperwork, you can get your Texas driver’s license.

Every case is different, so it’s a good idea to consult a legal expert. It can be more challenging to get a driver’s license if you’re seeking asylum compared to those who have residency or citizenship. It’s important to address these legal differences. Having a Social Security Number and legal authorization through a Work Permit should make the driver’s license application process smoother.

If you have additional questions about your driver’s license, your immigration case, or your specific case, you may contact us at (855) 502-0555. After a brief 10-minute evaluation of your case over the phone, we will let you know what options you have. You can also follow us on our social networks so you don’t miss our weekly broadcasts on Facebook, YouTube and Twitch.

About the Author: Kate Lincoln-Goldfinch

I am the managing partner of Lincoln-Goldfinch Law. Upon graduating from the University of Texas for college and law school, I received an Equal Justice Works Fellowship in 2008, completed at American Gateways. My project served the detained families seeking asylum. After my fellowship, I entered private immigration practice. My firm offers family-based immigration, such as green cards and naturalization, deportation defense, and humanitarian cases such as asylum, U Visa, and VAWA. Everyone at Lincoln-Goldfinch Law is bilingual, has a connection to our cause, and has demonstrated a history of activism for immigrants. To us, our work is not just a job.

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