Missouri State Immigration Laws
Welcome to FindLaw's coverage of immigration laws in Missouri. There is a difference between state and federal law, which affects immigration law. It's essential for immigration because the stakes are high. Even if you're not pursuing U.S. citizenship, facing immigration officials is scary.
Below you will find information on:
- Law enforcement and immigration in Missouri
- Employment and immigration
- Missouri E-Verify requirements
- Driver's license/ID requirements
- Public benefits restrictions
- Education checks
- Voting ID rules
- Housing ordinances and immigration
- Related resources
- Contact an immigration attorney
Federal immigration authorities in Washington, D.C., typically manage immigration and enforcement. But increasingly, local law enforcement officers are starting to help with immigration issues. They investigate or pursue suspected immigration-related offenses.
A federal program once required all arrestees' names to enter a database. This program was "Secure Communities." The database checked immigration statuses. Former President Donald Trump renewed the program by executive order in 2017. But President Joe Biden revoked that executive order in 2021.
Now, police only check the immigration statuses of those convicted of crimes as part of the Criminal Apprehension Program.
Missouri law requires all public (government) employers to use E-Verify to confirm that new hires are authorized to work. The law does not force private employers to use E-Verify for new hires. But, it offers incentives to do so and penalties for hiring unauthorized workers without using the system.
Applicants for new driver's licenses must have documents proving their identity. These documents must also show their date and place of birth. They also must show their Social Security number and Missouri home address. A complete list of acceptable documents is on the Missouri DOR site.
Under federal law, immigrants without proper documents can't get public benefits. But they can use emergency and health care services "necessary to protect life and safety."
Missouri law also restricts a variety of benefits to immigrants without proper documents. Green card holders are eligible for Medicaid.
Under state law, Missouri doesn't allow in-state tuition benefits for students living here illegally. Missouri law also bans them from financial aid benefits. 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.
U visa holders can't pay in-state tuition rates. Here's a breakdown of U visas:
- U visas are available to victims of domestic violence, human trafficking, and other crimes.
- A U visa gives work authorization in the same way a green card does. U visas offer many of the same benefits as being a lawful permanent resident.
- U visas are also available to the family members of victims.
- The children of victims get temporary protected status, along with the U visa holder. To the children of victims, it provides special immigrant juvenile status.
- Victims of human trafficking may be eligible for a T visa. A T visa is specifically for victims of trafficking in persons. It's also known as a T nonimmigrant visa.
These visa types offer many benefits to non-citizens who have suffered abuse. But, they don't provide eligibility for in-state tuition benefits.
Missouri requires voters to present identification before voting. Forms of ID include non-expired state driver's licenses and non-expired and expired state non-driver's licenses. They also include federal or state government documents containing the name and photo of the person. Any non-expired armed services identification containing a photograph is also OK.
People without ID may vote if they present a school identification card or utility bill. They may also vote with a bank statement, paycheck, or other government document, allow someone to take their picture, and sign a statement.
Missouri has seen several local efforts to establish rent-related ordinances targeting immigrants living here illegally. But these attempts typically face immediate challenges in court, and their legality is unclear.
- Legal Aid of Western Missouri: This nonprofit organization based in Kansas City offers free or low-cost legal services and advocacy to qualifying people, including immigrants without proper documentation. This organization staffs attorneys who offer legal services to low-income people.
- Legal Services of Eastern Missouri: This nonprofit in St. Louis, Missouri, offers free or low-cost legal services or advocacy to immigrants and migrants in the state. Organizations like this can help with legal assistance for low-income people.
- Missouri Immigration Policy Coalition: This organization offers various advocacy services to migrants in the state.
These legal services providers can help immigrants with many issues, often for free.
Missouri and other states do not have jurisdiction over matters of immigration law. That is up to the federal government. But, states often pass laws that have an impact on immigrants. Understanding your rights and the intersection of state and federal law is the best way to protect your interests.
Get help with your immigration matter from an experienced attorney today. It doesn't matter what immigration-related circumstances you are facing. You could undergo the naturalization process and try to become a U.S. citizen. You could appear before an immigration court or discuss matters with the USCIS. You might even pursue a green card and lawful permanent resident status. Whatever the case, it's always a good idea to secure legal services from a licensed immigration attorney. Immigration lawyers provide invaluable legal assistance. Whether in Kansas City, St. Louis, or elsewhere, getting the help you need is essential. Contact an attorney today.
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