drivers license with pending I-485

Getting A Drivers License With Pending I-485

If you’ve lived in the U.S. for any length of time, you’d quickly notice how dependent this country is on the automobile. Unless you live in a major metropolitan area, it’s vital to get a drivers license with pending I-485.

After your marriage to a U.S. citizen, you’ll likely need to apply for adjustment of status. This is done by filing form I-485 with USCIS to apply for permanent residence.

The good news is that you won’t need to wait until you have the green card in hand to apply for the drivers license. It’s not that simple though, you will need to prove you have a pending I-485 and that you are a resident of the state your trying to get a drivers license from.

Find out what you need to bring to the DMV.

Download the drivers license checklist!

(for pending or approved I-485)

Case Example:

Victoria arrived in California 2 months ago on a K1 fiance visa. After she got married, they quickly applied for adjustment of status so she could get her work permit and green card. Victoria has a Canadian drivers license which she was able to use for 30 days until she was able to transfer it to a California license.

The DMV allows simple exchange for anyone who has a Canadian or Mexican drivers license so she didn’t have to complete the driving test. Victoria had to prove that she was a resident of California by providing utility bills in her name as well as her legal status in the US.

For K1 visa holders, you can also apply for a drivers license with an unexpired I-94 card or Employment Authorization Document (EAD). But, it will only be valid for the time that your EAD is valid.

How To Get Drivers License With Pending I-485

Ready to drive in the US? Well, lets get you a drivers license so you can do so legally.

Most people who wish to drive must complete a written or driving test unless they are simply exchanging their Canadian or Mexican drivers license.

For all other drivers, you must begin the process from the beginning. In many cases this means you will initially get a drivers permit that allows you to drive a vehicle with a fully licensed driver in the passenger seat.

After spending some time practicing, you can take the driving test at the DMV which is pretty straight-forward. If you pass this test, you will get your full driver license allowing you to drive alone.

If you fail the driving test, you’ll need to pay the fee again and attempt the test again. It may help to take a driving lessons from a professional if you can’t find someone who will take you out to practice.

Evidence Needed For Drivers License With Pending I-485

Before you run off to the DMV to try to get your drivers license, you should first know what documents to bring with you. The DMV isn’t a fun place to be when your unprepared.

Not only will you be waiting a long time to get service but you’ll likely be sent home quickly without the right documents.

Below are a list of documents that you can show your legal status in the US. Bring all original documents, not just a photocopy.

I-797 For I-485 Adjustment of Status Required Documents

  • Valid Passport or other acceptable USCIS document
  • I-797 showing approved I-130 or K1 classification (Fiancée of U.S. Citizen), or
  • I-797 or other documents showing applicant classification which allows for adjustment of status.
  • Length of DL/ID Issuance
    • One year from date of driver license or identification card issuance.

pending I-485

Important Notes:

  • The I-485 is a form to change status from a non-immigrant status to an immigrant status.
  • This presumes that in most cases, supporting documents should include an I-130 /I-140approval, or other classifications where a person can petition for oneself.
  • An I-485 without any supporting documents is not acceptable.

I-130 (CR1/IR1) Spouse of US Citizen or LPR Required Documents

  • Permanent Resident Card (Green Card)
  • Required Documents Valid I-551 / I-151 Card
    • If the date is invalid, the applicant will need a receipt for I-90 from DHS indicating they have applied for renewal of I-551 card. All A#s are verified through SAVE.
  • Length of DL/ID Issuance
    • 8 Year License – 79 and Younger
    • 6 Year License – 80 and Older
    • 8 Year ID Card – 15 and Older
    • 4 Year ID Card – 5 to 14 Years Old

Important Notes:

  • I-551 cards without an expiration date are acceptable for driver license or identification card issuance
  • I-551 / I-151 cards containing the applicant’s baby photo are acceptable; however, inform the customer that they should obtain a new card.
  • An expired I-551/I-151 Permanent Resident Card may be used for license/identification card issuance if customer’s immigrant status is verified through Verification of Lawful Status (VLS) system

K1 Fiancée of United States Citizen Required Documents

  • Valid Passport
  • Length of DL/ID Issuance D/S,
    • Same as expiration date of document, not to exceed one year from date of driver license or ID card issuance
  • K1 visa holders must get married within 90 days from date of entry to remain in the U.S.
  • To get a one year license, must also show receipt for I-485 filing and marriage certificate.
  • Must get married to petitioner of K1 visa
  • Name will be as in Visa page of passport until I-551 is issued.

K2 Child of K1 Visa Holder Required Documents

  • Valid Passport
  • Length of DL/ID Issuance D/S,
    • Same as expiration date of document, not to exceed one year from date of driver license or ID issuance.

I-797 For VAWA I-360 Petition Required Documents

  • I-797 for I-360 approved or
  • I-797 for an I-360pending must stat “Prima Facie Case” has been established
  • Marriage certificate (only if available)
  • Lawful entry is not a requirement
  • Length of DL/ID Issuance
    • Same as expiration date of document, not to exceed one year from date of driver license or identification card issuance.

Renew Expired Drivers License With Pending I-485

Renewing your drivers license can be done easily as long as you can prove you have legal status in the US. This means a pending I-485 adjustment of status or unexpired immigrant visa (I-551 stamp).

Normally, the DMV will only issue a drivers license for the length of time that you have a valid proof of resident. So, if your permanent resident card expired in 6 months, your new drivers license will also expire in 6 months.

When I wanted to apply for my drivers license, I immediately exchanged my Canadian license when I got my EAD card. But, it was only good for 1 year so my new drivers license was good for only one year.

Thankfully, as soon as you get the 2 year conditional green card, you can upgrade your drivers license to be valid until your green card expires.

Case Example:

Jakob arrived on CR1 spouse visa from the Netherlands. He immediately went to the DMV to apply for his drivers license with the I-551 stamp in his passport proving he is a conditional permanent resident.

Using the I-551 card is valid if you haven’t received the physical green card in the mail. Jakob’s new drivers license will be valid for 8 years but he may need to get a drivers permit and complete the driving test before he gets the license since the Netherlands can’t simply exchange their drivers license.

For spouses of US citizens or LPR, you are eligible for a drivers license immediately as you are a permanent resident. You can either wait until you receive the green card in the mail or use the I-1551 card in your foreign passport as proof of permanent residence.

Final Thoughts On Drivers License With Pending I-485

Driving is pretty essential in most cities in the Unites States. It will definitely make your life a lot easier if you get your drivers license with pending I-485. Once you get your drivers license, you can not only use it as proof of ID but can also use it to board a domestic flight.

I recommend that you check with your states DMV before take half a day to to wait in their offices. Sometimes there is a minimum amount of time that you must live in the state before you’re eligible for a drivers license.

Another aspect we didn’t talk about in this post is what to do if you’ve brought your car to the US. This is exactly what I did and you are allowed to drive without registering the vehicle for up to 60 days in most states. But after 30-60 days, you must register it with the DMV and get new tags.

This will cost a good amount of money depending on the value of your car and you may be required to go through an emissions test.

Finally, if you are ever denied a drivers license by the DMV, you should speak with a supervisor to find out why. If you submitted the evidence of your legal status, you should be able to get a drivers license with pending I-485.

Find out what you need to bring to the DMV.

Download the drivers license checklist!

(for pending or approved I-485)

Will you be applying for a drivers license with pending I-485? Did you find the process simple or unnecessarily complicated? Let me know in the comments below.

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Edgar O.
Edgar O.

I live in Colorado and Im married to a US citizen, I have my form I-485 pending of adjustment of status and the I-767 Notice of Action, in the DMV they told me I can’t get my driver license with those documents because I don’t have yet my green card and I need to wait until I get it to be able to issue a DL. I dont know if all offices are the same or they don’t know how it works, they are treating me as an ilegal and I’m not sure that’s correct, please let me know what… Read more »


I have been issued a California driving license with pending i-485 (came in on a k1 visa) on April 2017 but expires in 1 year. It is now the end of Feb 2018 n my i-485 is still pending n my license is expiring in April 2018. How do I renew my license? Is it as simple as going to DMV n showing them my pending documents?


I have a pending I-485,married to a USC.i already had my biometrics done.Can i still drive in Georgia? I’m expecting to receive my work permit by August.

Margareth Alvis
Margareth Alvis

Hi, I live in Charleston SC, I got married to an American citizen and right now we are waiting to meet with the USCIS for the interview, I already got my biometrics done, we have submitted all of the forms and received the receipts for all of them. I came to the states as an aupair, had a driver’s license which expired on June 6th this year. I got married May 12th this year and mi visa and all of the papers that supported my visa expired on June 6th with my driver’s license. My question is do I need… Read more »


Thank you for the opportunity to share my situation with you and potentially learn from other peoples experiences: I COULD NOT renew my California issued DL at the DMV in Arizona. “Very disappointed” I was lawfully admitted in 2012 based on 5 year E2 Visa (also called investors visa) In January 2018 I got married and moved to AZ, my E2 Visa expired end of 02/2018 we filed for AOS (i-485) and I already had the biometrics appt. and received the first NoA i797 Notice of Action so far. Then I went to the DMV to renew my DL but… Read more »