Das Zuwanderungsgesetz RECHTSANWALT SPRICHT
Durch Tracey M. Hubbard Rentas, Rechtsanwalt
Routine traffic stops by local police officers are resulting in an increased number of undocumented immigrants being arrested and turned over to immigration. Given that driving without a license is the reason most often used to arrest these immigrants, many immigrants are contacting my office seeking help to obtain a valid Pennsylvania driver’s license.
Which immigrants are eligible to receive a Pennsylvania driver’s license? What is the procedure that must be followed in order to get a license? What documents do immigrants need to show in order to get their license? These are all questions that will be answered in this article.
Before I answer these questions, let me start by stating that the eligibility requirements for a person to receive a Pennsylvania driver’s license are virtually identical as those to obtain a Pennsylvania state identification. The only difference is that a person does not need to undergo any testing to get a state identification, once they are deemed eligible to receive it. Thus, in order to eliminate repetition, throughout this article, I will only refer to Pennsylvania driver’s licenses.
Who is Eligible To Receive a License? In order to advise an immigrant whether he/she is eligible to receive a license, I first need to understand the immigrant’s current immigration status. Not surprisingly, individuals who are legally present in the United States are eligible to receive driver’s licenses. Thus, permanent residents, refugees, asylees, persons granted Temporary Protected Status, H-2b temporary workers, and F-1 student visa holders are a few classes of documented immigrants eligible to receive Pennsylvania driver’s licenses.
The second group of immigrants who are often eligible to seek licenses are immigrants who are in the process of applying for immigration status, regardless if filed in an immigration court or with immigration directly. For example, immigrants who have filed for asylum, adjustment of status, cancellation of removal, or self-petitioned as an abused spouse are all entitled to a driver’s license while their cases are pending.
The final group of immigrants who are eligible to receive driver’s licenses are those whom have deportation orders but whom immigration has agreed could remain in the United States for an additional period of time. These immigrants include individuals on orders of supervision, immigrants granted deferred action, those whose deportation cases have been administratively closed, and persons granted a stay of deportation.
It is noteworthy that the following immigrants usually do not qualify for a driver’s license in Pennsylvania: (ein) individuals who entered without inspection by immigration or overstayed their visas AND have not applied for any immigration status; und (b) individuals who only have an I-130 (immigrant visa) petition pending on their behalf but have not filed an I-485 adjustment of status application.
If you believe you are an immigrant who qualifies for a license under this category but to whom Penndot refuses to issue a license, please feel free to contact my office for assistance in your particular case.
What Is The Procedure That Must Be Followed In Order To Get A License? What Documents Must Be Shown to Get a Driver’s License? Now that you have determined that you are eligible to receive a driver’s license, it is important to know the procedure that you must follow to obtain your license. No matter what group you fall into, any immigrant seeking a driver’s license will have to produce (ein) a social security card or a social security denial letter from the Social Security Administration; (b) 2 pieces of evidence that the immigrant resides in Pennsylvania; (c) an identity document with a photo (usually a valid passport or employment authorization card); und (d) specific evidence relating to an immigrant’s particular immigration status or pending immigration applications.
No matter which Penndot center you decide to go to, the proper procedure is for them to review your documents to make sure you have complied with the requirements. If your class of immigration status qualifies for a license, Penndot will then try to assess whether you, in particular, qualify for a license. Penndot will complete an online application to see if your immigration status can be verified through immigration’s SAVE verification system. Through the SAVE system, Penndot is informed in a few seconds whether an immigrant has valid immigration status or whether a lengthier additional verification process is required.
In most cases, immigrant will have to go through the additional verification process. If this is required, Penndot will scan all of the documents you presented. In about two weeks, you will receive a letter by mail from Penndot indicating whether you are eligible to receive a driver’s license. If you receive a letter indicating that you are eligible for a driver’s license, you must return to Penndot with that letter as well as all the original documentation you showed to Penndot the first time you were there. At that point, you will be allowed to take your computerized driver’s knowledge test to receive a permit. The driver’s knowledge test is available in English and Spanish. For those who cannot read in either language, a person may choose to have the questions read aloud to him by audio headphones. If an immigrant passes the driver’s knowledge test and a quick vision test, they will receive their driving permit. If the immigrant fails the driver’s knowledge test, the immigrant can retake the test once a day as many times as necessary to pass the exam.
If the letter states that you are not eligible for a driver’s license, then Penndot will not issue you a license. Penndot often makes mistakes during this process. If you believe you are eligible to receive a driver’s license but Penndot has denied your application for a driver’s license, please contact my office for further assistance.
Schließlich, please be aware that international driver’s licenses are only good in Pennsylvania for 30 days after you enter. Under Pennsylvania law, anyone who is residing in Pennsylvania for more than 30 days must get a Pennsylvania driver’s license. Presenting an officer with an international driver’s license is just confirming to the officer that you are undocumented. Immigrant should NOT use international driver’s licenses as they do not help them in any way.