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Ohio State Immigration Laws

Learning about your rights and responsibilities under immigration law is a challenge. This difficulty becomes more evident for those processing their immigration status. This article gives a comprehensive overview of the vital information that immigrants in Ohio should know. The topics discussed in this article are as follows:

These topics cover the fundamental rights of migrants in the United States. Note that some resources and state rules related to immigration law may vary. You must learn about the regulations that apply to your case.

Law Enforcement and Immigration in Ohio

U.S. departments and federal agencies usually handle the enforcement of immigration laws. Some of these government agencies are as follows:

Local and state authorities also work with the federal government on immigration law. For instance, Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) highlights this collaboration.

Section 287(g) authorized ICE to delegate to local law enforcement certain functions of immigration officers. The section allows local agencies to identify and assess noncitizens with criminal charges.

ICE also has the Criminal Apprehension Program with a similar aim. The program aims to enhance cooperation between federal agencies and local governments. This is particularly to identify and prosecute noncitizens convicted of serious crimes.

Ohio E-Verify Requirements

E-Verify Process is an online system for employers to verify employees' employment eligibility. The system compares the employee's records with the data stored by DHS and the Social Security Administration.

E-verify became mandatory for employers in many states. But, in Ohio, employers are But, in Ohio, employers are not required to use E-Verify. Some employers in Ohio may voluntarily opt to use the system. The system requires verification of some federal contractors and subcontractors.

These rules might change in the future. So stay updated and informed about legal changes.

Driver's License/ID Requirements

In Ohio, those who would like to get a U.S. driver's license should present documentation proving the following:

  • Legal Name
  • Date of Birth
  • Social Security number (if assigned)
  • U.S. citizen identification; or
  • Lawful permanent resident identification
  • Ohio residency identification

Before issuing a driver's license, the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) must verify a person's lawful presence in the country. The BMV may issue regular driver's licenses to noncitizens with permanent residency or green cards. The Ohio BMV website has more information about driver's license requirements.

Public Benefits Restrictions

Under federal law, illegal immigrants are ineligible from getting most public benefits. Some of the benefits they can't get are as follows:

  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Regular Medicaid
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

But, they are eligible for necessary benefits to protect their life and safety. This includes the following:

  • Emergency Medicaid
  • Access to healthcare and nutrition programs
  • Access to treatment in emergency rooms

Education Checks

Ohio bars students living in the U.S. illegally from paying in-state tuition rates.

But, in July 2013, the Board of Regents in Ohio modified this rule. Now, Ohio allows Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients to get this education benefit. DACA recipients may attend public universities and colleges paying in-state tuition rates. But applicants must meet the following conditions:

  • Students whose parent, legal guardian, or spouse were residents of Ohio for 12 consecutive months or more. The 12-month residency should be immediately before the student's enrollment.
  • Students who lived in Ohio for at least 12 consecutive months immediately before enrollment. The student must not receive financial support from residents outside of Ohio.
  • Students whose parent, legal guardian, or spouse has full-time employment and a home in Ohio.

The Ohio Administrative Code also states that political refugees are eligible for the Chancellor's consideration or review for in-state tuition.

Voting ID Rules

All eligible Ohio residents have equal access to elections. The state offers three different options for voting, which are as follows:

  1. By mail
  2. Early in-person voting (four weeks before election day)
  3. In-person voting on Election Day

People in Ohio qualified to vote are those who meet the following requirements:

  1. U.S. citizen
  2. At least 18 before the day of the general election
  3. A resident of Ohio at least 30 days immediately before election day
  4. Not in prison for a felony conviction
  5. Not declared incompetent to vote by a probate court
  6. Not permanently disenfranchised for violating election laws

The state requires voters to present a valid photo identification. The photo ID should contain the following information:

  1. A photo of the voter
  2. The voter's name in the photo ID is the same as in the poll list
  3. An expiration date

Housing Ordinances and Immigration

The U.S. Fair Housing Act protects people from discrimination. It also protects people's rights to fair housing. These rules apply to those looking at renting, buying, or selling a home or looking for housing assistance.

Related Resources

Various resources in Ohio provide legal aid and guidance to immigrants. The state also has nonprofit organizations that offer services and legal help to immigrants. The following are some of them:

  • Catholic Charities Diocese of Cleveland — This charity offers legal services to low-income people regardless of immigration status.
  • Asian Services in Action Inc. — An organization that provides immigration legal services for immigrants and refugees in Northeast Ohio.
  • Advocates for Basic Legal Equality Inc. — A nonprofit organization offering legal services to Ohio low-income people. They help victims of human trafficking, domestic violence, and more.
  • Know Your Rights — A free legal resource to protect you and your family members during immigration raids (PDF, CASA of Maryland, and other organizations)

Learn More About Immigration Law: Seek Legal Help From an Immigration Lawyer

Understanding the intricacies of these government rules is confusing and overwhelming. But remember that you are not alone. There are immigration attorneys who can guide you through your journey. They can give you important legal advice and referrals to government service providers. Some of the services that immigration lawyers offer are:

  • Processing of U.S. visa
  • Acquiring U.S. citizenship or naturalization
  • Getting lawful permanent residency or green card application
  • Petitioning family members to the U.S.
  • Legal representation in immigration court
  • Other matters related to immigration law

Migrants facing deportation or removal should seek legal help. has a directory of immigration attorneys in Ohio. The website also offers more legal resources about immigration law.

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