Got My Drivers' License Based on DACA: Is It Still Good, With Program Ending?

How long will a DACA-based drivers' license be good for?

Question

I got approved for DACA status a few years ago, but now I hear that Trump is ending the program. What that means for me is still sinking in. I realize I will probably lose my job, and might be deported and separated from my family, including my U.S. citizen children. Another issue has also occurred to me: Will I lose my driver's license along with my DACA status? (In my state, undocumented people weren't allowed to get licenses until DACA came along.) I need my car for work and to take my kids to school and all.

Answer

You are asking a question that's of interest to many people who live in states that allowed drivers' licenses to be issued to people with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status.

First, before worrying about your license running out, make sure that you take advantage of any possible opportunities to renew your DACA status before it's too late. (See "How to Renew Your DACA Status" and "Why Should I Renew My DACA.")

Also look for local nonprofit organizations offering free or low-cost help with renewing by the October 5, 2017 deadline. Depending on personal timing with regard to past DACA applications, some people may be able to keep their DACA grant into 2020.

Now, as to the issue of your driver's license. This is a matter of state, not federal law. And it's worth checking again on the legal requirements in the state where you live. While many states won't allow a driver's license to anyone who doesn't have legal permission to be in the United States, there are a few states in which even undocumented immigrants can get a license; although it typically looks a bit different than other drivers' licenses, and indicates that it's only for limited purposes.

The exact rules and requirements for drivers' license eligibility will depend on your state. Check out the National Immigration Law Center's map, showing the drivers' license requirements as related to undocumented immigrants in various states.

In the meantime, it's a good idea to look into whether your license is going to expire anytime soon. If it is, renew it before your DACA runs out, if you can.

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