Why Can’t I Get a Driver’s License?

Once common complaint from many clients is their inability to get a driver’s license while certain petitions are pending with USCIS. Each state’s DMV is a little different.

In Alabama, for instance, you may not even need an Alabama driver’s license if you have a valid foreign driver’s license. However, if you need an Alabama license, the DMV will generally not issue one unless you are in status or filed for an extension or renewal while still in status. If your period of authorized stay is soon to expire, the DMV will often only grant your license for the time period of your authorized stay. This often creates a problem when clients are in a period of authorized stay due to the filing of a petition with USCIS, but their period of stay on their original visa has expired. Even though certain petitions can be filed with USCIS when you are out of status, and which place you in a temporary period of authorized stay, getting a license can be nearly impossible until you actually receive your green card or other benefit for which you petitioned.

Unfortunately, there’s no perfect solution to this problem if you encounter it. The best idea is to simply plan ahead, and if possible, maintain your underlying status while any adjustments of status are pending. Obviously, that is not always possible or practical, so have a plan in place post-filing for dealing with this inconvenience.

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