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Hawaii State Immigration Laws

Welcome to FindLaw's coverage of immigration laws in Hawaii. In this article, you will find information on whether law enforcement officials in the state conduct immigration status checks on arrestees. You'll also learn about the kinds of checks, if any, schools in the state run on applicants and students. You may even want to know whether employers check the immigration statuses of workers and job applicants. We cover that in this article, as well. Finally, we also cover issues related to the use of E-Verify and restrictions on access to public benefits.

Law Enforcement and Immigration in Hawaii

At one time, a federal program forced police to search for arrestees in a database. That database checked immigration status. This program was called “Secure Communities." But in 2021, the Biden administration revoked the Executive Order former President Trump used to renew the program. It expired in 2017. The new program only requires that convicts be checked in an immigration status-checking database. The new program is called the "Criminal Apprehension Program." Information collected in this database is shared with the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). It may also be shared with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Employment and Immigration

Refer to federal employment eligibility verification rules and the requirements for Form I-9.

Hawaii E-Verify Requirements

There is no requirement to use E-Verify for checking employees' status. E-Verify is a program the federal government gives employers to check whether workers are legally allowed to work in the United States. For general information on the E-Verify system, visit FindLaw's page on the subject. You can also see

Driver's License/ID Requirements

You must show proof of citizenship or legal residence, plus a valid Social Security number.

Public Benefits Restrictions

Under federal law, illegal immigrants are blocked from getting most public benefits. But, they can receive emergency services, health care, and other programs deemed "necessary to protect life and safety."

Education Checks

Hawaii offers in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants. They receive the same access to in-state tuition benefits as U.S. citizens that are also residents of Hawaii. This also applies to DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipients. For more information about DACA, review FindLaw's What is DACA: Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals? You may also learn more about DACA by reviewing USCIS's FAQ page on the program.

This benefit extends to U visa holders, as well. It provides work authorization in the same way that a green card does. It provides many benefits of being a lawful permanent resident but is still temporary and provides pathways to lawful permanent residency. U visas are also available to family members of victims.

To learn more about this type of visa, visit FindLaw's page on the subject. Victims need defense, and this visa can help toward that end. It can also help asylum seekers who have faced persecution in their country of origin. This visa type is available to non-citizens who have been victimized by domestic violence and many other crimes.

Voting ID Rules

Precinct officials may ask for a photo ID but are not required to. Voters without ID may verify their identity by reciting their birthdate and address.

Housing Ordinances and Immigration


Related Resources

  • Know Your Rights — Guide to protecting yourself and your family during immigration raids (PDF, CASA of Maryland and other organizations)
  • Hawaii Immigrant Justice Center — Legal aid and advocacy organization for immigrants in Hawaii
  • Legal Aid Society of Hawaii — This nonprofit organization provides free or low-cost legal services to qualified individuals. People that cannot afford attorneys, including those needing an immigration attorney, should consider contacting this organization.

Need More Help? Contact a Lawyer

Dealing with immigration on your own is very difficult and stressful. It's always a good idea to seek the legal help of an immigration attorney. If you need a referral, contact the Hawaii State Bar Association. They can give referrals free of charge.

Whether in Honolulu, Maui, one of the neighboring islands, or anywhere else in Hawai'i, it's good to seek legal help from a qualified legal professional. Again, if you can't afford an attorney, contact one of the nonprofit organizations in the state. At their legal clinics, you'll be able to find the legal advice you need.

An attorney can help you with:

  • Pursuing U.S. citizenship and the naturalization process
  • Getting an immigrant visa or non-immigrant visa
  • Appearing for deportation proceedings before the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA)

Even in your regular dealings with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), attorneys are helpful.

The legal resources and legal help that attorneys provide are priceless tools. As legal service providers, they can make your life that much easier. Regardless of your national origin, lawyers can help.

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