Obtaining a Connecticut Driver’s License as an Immigrant

Posted on 09/18/23

Changes in the law allow undocumented immigrants to obtain a license to legally drive in the state of Connecticut. This development allows people to legally drive in the state, regardless of their immigration status. 

How to Get a Connecticut Driver’s License as an Immigrant 

If you are unable to provide proof of legal presence in the United States and you still want to drive without fear of being pulled over, Connecticut can issue drivers a drive-only license. As of 2015, Connecticut allows immigrants to drive legally. 

The drive-only license is available to individuals who are at least 16 years of age and are currently unable to establish permanent residency or qualify for an immigrant visa. Despite not being a legal resident of the United States, an adult will still usually need a license to drive to attend work, transport children to school, and attend to a variety of tasks that may not be within walking distance or conveniently accessible by public transportation. 

To apply for a drive-only license in Connecticut, follow these steps: 

  1. Be prepared to submit two forms of identification, including passports, birth certificates, ID cards, etc.
  2. Study for the knowledge test.
  3. Visit your local DMV to take the knowledge test and vision test.
  4. Pay the necessary fees. 

The steps above will provide you with a learner’s permit. Once you have the permit, you can schedule an on-the-road skills test after 90 days. 

Eligibility Requirements for Obtaining a Drive-Only License 

Though you don’t need to be a legal immigrant to obtain a driver’s license in Connecticut, there are eligibility requirements that can preclude someone from getting the license, including: 

  • Felony convictions
  • Previous acts of identity fraud at the Connecticut DMV 

As part of the background check, the DMV will also check to see whether you have had your driving privileges suspended in the past. 

If you are deemed ineligible to apply for this license, you will receive a notification with instructions on how to resolve the issue. 

Limitations of a Drive-Only License 

When you receive your drive-only license, you will notice that it looks a little different than traditional driver’s licenses. For example, it will have a Class D title instead of Class C. Further, under the banner that says “Driver License,” there will be a subheading that says, “Not for Federal Identification.” 

A drive-only license is required if you want to legally drive on Connecticut roads or the roads of any other state in the U.S. However, it’s common to be nervous that being pulled over will result in an immediate arrest because an officer knows your immigration status. 

State law prohibits officers or anyone from discriminating against someone based on having this form of license. While you can be arrested for breaking another law or committing a major traffic infraction, you will not be arrested solely for your license status. 

Despite equipping immigrants with the ability to drive legally, there are some limitations to be aware of. Specifically, a drive-only license does not provide: 

  • Employment eligibility
  • Voter registration
  • Eligibility for public benefits 

Further, a federal law enforcement agency (specifically ICE) can still arrest someone if one’s immigration status is determined via a drive-only license. 

Contact an Experienced Connecticut Immigration Attorney Today 

The Law Offices of James A. Welcome has a team of experienced American immigration lawyers providing compassionate legal representation and legal services for immigrants worldwide. We encourage you to contact us for help with any immigration matters. 

Call (475) 241-0824 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.