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Massachusetts State Immigration Laws

Welcome to FindLaw's page on Massachusetts immigration laws. Below, you can read about the checks law enforcement officers run on people convicted of crimes. You'll also find information about whether educational institutions run these kinds of checks. You'll also learn about how employers handle checking immigration status. We also discuss E-Verify requirements and restrictions on public benefits.

The U.S. immigration system is confusing and difficult to understand and navigate. Below, review our material on immigration policies unique to Massachusetts.

Law Enforcement and Immigration in Massachusetts

A federal program once required law enforcement officers to check arrestees' immigration statuses. This program was "Secure Communities."

Former President Donald Trump revived the program, which had expired in 2017. In 2021, President Joe Biden revoked the executive order. The new program is the "Criminal Apprehension Program." It only requires checks of convicts. The database shares immigration statuses of convicts with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (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.

Massachusetts E-Verify Requirements

State agencies must use E-Verify to check the employment authorization status of new hires.

Driver's License/ID Requirements

To get a Massachusetts driver's license, you must show proof of U.S. citizenship, legal residence, and date of birth. You may show a utility bill or similar mail to prove your residence.

Public Benefits Restrictions

Under federal law, immigrants living in the U.S. illegally are barred from getting most public benefits. But they can get emergency services. They can also get health care and other programs "necessary to protect life and safety."

Education Checks

Massachusetts does not extend in-state tuition to students without documentation. This applies to DACA recipients, as well. DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. It protects eligible young adults from deportation after their parents brought them to the United States as children. It also gives these young adults work authorization for limited periods. Those periods of work authorization are renewable.

Voting ID Rules

Massachusetts has no voter identification requirements.

Housing Ordinances and Immigration

Massachusetts has no special housing ordinances for immigrants.

Related Resources

Need More Help? Contact a Lawyer Today

It's hard to handle immigration issues on your own. It's always a good idea for non-citizens to seek the legal assistance of an immigration attorney or immigrant rights group. Their legal services could include:

  • Pursuing a green card or lawful permanent resident status
  • Navigating the naturalization process to become a U.S. citizen
  • Seeking protection from domestic violence through a U visa for you and your minor children
  • Dealing with harassment or threat of deportation from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or USCIS

If you can't afford an attorney, contact one of the nonprofit organizations listed above or Legal Aid Massachusetts. Legal Aid Massachusetts can offer free or low-cost legal services to qualifying immigrants and migrants.

Whether you're in Worcester, Boston, or any other part of the state, speak with an attorney near you. Immigration advocates, many of whom speak Spanish, are widely available in the state. Get legal help today.

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