The limitations of being in America without a green card

Coming to America without a green card can limit what you can do in the country. Even if you come legally, not having a green card can influence what you are or are not able to do in your daily life, such as if you’re able to work, rent an apartment or get a license.

Here are a few things you should know about being in America without a green card.

Can I work without a green card?

Only in a few circumstances, such as if you have a nonimmigrant visa that allows it, like an O, L, or H visa. You may also be able to work without a green card if you have an employment authorization card instead.

Can I rent an apartment without a green card?

You don’t necessarily need a green card to rent an apartment in America. If you’re in America temporarily on another kind of visa, you can rent an apartment. You’re protected by the Fair Housing Act. However, you may find that it is difficult to get an apartment if you don’t have a state-issued ID or driver’s license, Social Security Number or passport. If you don’t have proof of employment, this will also cause issues when you try to get an apartment for the first time.

Can I get a license without a green card?

In some states, you can get a license even if you don’t have a green card. A few states will allow you to get your license, including:

  • New Mexico
  • Washington State
  • Illinois

In Utah, you can get a driving permit.

Sometimes, if you’re in America temporarily and have a license in another country, you’ll be able to drive legally in the country. You will need to apply for an International Driving Permit, or IDP, and to have a valid license from your country. Every state in the U.S. has different requirements, so make sure you get in touch with your local Department of Motor Vehicles to be sure you’re driving in accordance with the law.

These are all problems you may run into if you don’t have a green card. Your attorney may be able to help you find ways around these problems, so you can work and live more comfortably.



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