By Beth Stickney, Esq., Maine BMV Contract Immigration Specialist. 

Beth Stickney

Asylum seekers:  What to do if you haven’t received your renewed work permit and you need to renew your Maine driver’s license or identification card. 

Maine state law requires that Maine residents prove their legal presence in the U.S. in order to get a standard Maine driver’s license or State ID from the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV).   

For a person who doesn’t already have permanent status here (such as U.S. citizenship, permanent residency, or refugee or asylee status), if the person’s proof of legal presence is an immigration document with an expiration date, under state law the BMV can only issue a credential that expires on the same day as the immigration document.   

To prove their legal presence, asylum seekers often show the BMV their work permits based on their asylum applications.  In those cases, the State ID or driver’s license must expire the same day that the work permit, or the 180 day automatic extension provided by the work permit renewal application’s filing receipt, will expire. 

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is now taking a year or more to renew asylum-based work permits, leaving many asylum seekers with expired work permits, despite having filed their work permit renewal applications months before their work permits are due to expire.   Fortunately, asylum seekers remain legally present for as long as their asylum applications are still in process with USCIS or the immigration court system, and can get a Maine driver’s license or state ID whose expiration date is based on the asylum application, not based on the work permit. 

Q.    I’m an asylum seeker.  How do I get a Maine credential that won’t expire the same day as my work permit? 

A.    Bring your USCIS receipt showing that you filed your I-589 application for asylum to the BMV, or a copy of your biometrics notice related to the I-589 asylum application (not related to the I-765 work permit application). 

Q.    My spouse and children are included on my asylum application.   How do they get Maine credentials that won’t expire on the same date as their work permits? 

A.   Have your spouse and children bring these documents to the BMV: 

  • Your USCIS receipt showing that you filed your I-589 application for asylum, and 
  • A copy of your I-589 asylum application with the pages showing that your spouse and children are listed on that form, or 
  • Any other papers you might have showing that your spouse and children are included in your request for asylum, such as: 
  • a copy of your request to USCIS to add your spouse or children to your I-589 asylum application; 
  • USCIS biometrics appointment notices for your spouse and children (if your children are age 14 or older); or 
  • any documents from the Immigration Court naming your spouse and children. 

Q.    I’m not an asylum seeker, but I’m still waiting to get my renewed work permit and my BMV credential is about to expire.  What can I do to renew my BMV credential? 

A.    Bring in to the BMV any USCIS filing receipts or notices showing the underlying basis for your eligibility to get a work permit.  The BMV might be able to issue you a renewed credential based on those documents, instead of your work permit.