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How to Apply for Driver License or ID Card

September 22, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

ICE (Immigration Custom and Enforcement) recently released a fact sheet providing information for student visa (F, M, or J) holder on applying for driver license or state issued ID card. I will summarize some of the important and most frequently asked questions below.

1. Can holder of student visa apply for driver license?

Yes. Technically, student visa holder can apply for driver license when their status is active. Practically, student should wait for 10 calender days after entering US before applying for driver license to allow time for the arrival information to be updated into the system.

2. What documents must student present to DMV?

Specific documents vary state by state. However, generally the following documents are required:

1. Valid passport with visa (if applicable)
2. Form I-94, “Arrival/Departure Record”
3. Form I-20 (for an F or M nonimmigrant) or Form DS-2019 (for a J nonimmigrant)
4. Form I-766 “Employment Authorization Document” (EAD), if applicable
5. Form I-797 or Form I-797A “Notice of Action,” in cases of a change of status (e.g., H-1B)
6. SSN or a Social Security Administration (SSA) Form SSA-L676

3. Can dependent of student visa apply for driver license?

Yes. To make the process as smooth as possible, make sure to go to DMV with primary visa holder and bring the following documents:

1. The primary and dependent’s most current Form I-94
2. The primary and dependent’s valid passport with visa (when applicable)
3. Proof of identity
4. Proof of relationship (e.g., marriage certificate)
5. The primary and dependent’s most current Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 (This is critical when the primary F-1 or M-1 is on OPT)

4. Common issues when applying for driver license.

Students in their gap period (between end of undergraduate program and start of graduate program) and student awaiting change of status (F1 to H1B) often face problems when applying for driver license because their information is not reflected in the system. USCIS acknowledge these problems in the fact sheet and is working on resolving this.

For additional information please view the link above which will connect you directly to the fact sheet which has more information about applying for driver license as a student visa holder.

  1. October 6, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    63. I’m so happy to read this. This is the type of manual that needs to be given and not the accidental misinformation that’s at the other blogs. Appreciate your sharing this greatest doc.

    • October 19, 2011 at 12:39 pm

      You are very welcome.

  2. October 19, 2011 at 11:19 pm

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  1. September 30, 2011 at 1:25 pm

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