DRIVER'S LICENSE & STATE ID
Driver's License & State ID
Having some form of photo ID is critical in our world today; you need to be able to prove you are who you say you are in many situations. You'll need a picture ID to board an airplane, get a job, set up bank accounts, and in order to make certain purchases.
State-issued identification cards are an official document that proves who you are and where you live. If you are not a U.S. citizen but are legally residing in the state, you qualify for an identification card. You will need to show documents that prove you are in the United States legally.
To apply for an identification card you will have to complete an application at the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office. Once you have applied for and received your identification card you will be able to use it regularly when proving your identity. These days, you are expected to prove who you are when shopping, banking, going to work, or even school.
In general, the nonimmigrant should present:
For J-1/F-1s: Form I-20 or DS-2019
Form I-766, Employment Authorization Document (EAD), if applicable
- For H-1Bs or F-1s on OPT/STEM:Form I-797, Notice of Approval, if applicable
- Social Security card or Social Security Administration letter of ineligibility.
- Two proofs of address: bank statement, lease contract, phone or credit card bill.
What should a nonimmigrant do if a DMV office denies his/her application for a driver’s license because of a discrepancy on the Form I-94? How can I-94 data be corrected?
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reviews requests for corrections and, if appropriate, issues the necessary documents to remedy errors made on the Form I-94 at the time of entry into the United States relating to:
- Improper nonimmigrant classification
- Inaccurate biographical information
- Incorrect period of admission
Any designated deferred inspection location or CBP office located within an international airport can assist, regardless of where the actual document was issued. See the CBP website for details. In particular, review the frequently asked questions segment titled, FAQs on the Arrival-Departure Record (I-94 Form) & Crewman Landing Permit (I-95 Form).
Yes. However, the DMV requires a nonimmigrant to present supporting documentation, such as an EAD, validating the duration of stay in the country. All documents should reflect the nonimmigrant's program start date and end date in the United States or practical training period.
Per the Delaware DMV, for Non-immigrant/Temporary visa categories - “Expiration date limited by authorized stay in U.S. Verify through SAVE. We can not issue document without SAVE verification: refer applicant to the USCIS to resolve mismatch conditions. We will use a one year expiration date when immigration records show "indefinite" or "duration of status" for period of authorized stay. Form I-94 Number Mandatory except when Alien Registration Number available (refugee, asylee, parolee).” For more please see the Delaware DMV.
Any F, J, or H nonimmigrant may apply for a driver’s license or ID as long as he or she is in lawful status and presents the necessary supporting documents required to verify legal presence in the United States.
Wait a minimum of 10 calendar days from the date of entry into the United States. For F-1s and J-1s, check with CGPS to make sure your SEVIS registration has been completed.
Most states require a nonimmigrant to have a Social Security number (SSN) or Social Security Administration (SSA) letter of ineligibility prior to applying for a driver’s license or ID.
The nonimmigrant’s name must match on all supporting documentation. The DMV will deny any nonimmigrant’s application if the supporting documents are inconsistent or do not reflect the proper name, DOB and nonimmigrant status.
If the nonimmigrant is ineligible for an SSN, he or she will receive a decision letter stating that ineligibility. The nonimmigrant must present this SSA letter when applying at the DMV office to fulfill the SSA requirement.
The nonimmigrant should consult his or her embassy to find out how to correct, update or renew the passport. Most embassies have a website with information for its citizens.
What should a F-1 or J-1 visa holder do if his or her name on the passport does not match the name on the Form I-20 or Form DS-2019?
The nonimmigrant should contact CGPS to correct the I-20 or DS-2019 to reflect the name on the passport prior to applying for a driver’s license or state ID. Spacing is as important as spelling and must be consistent. For instance, systems will not read Mc Millan and McMillan as the same name. Hyphens must NOT be used. Consistency with capitalization is helpful, but not critical. F/M/J nonimmigrants must be consistent in how they enter last, first and middle names.
A student on the cap-gap extension should present an updated Form I-20 that shows the extension of stay.
When the student receives the approval notice for the H-1B petition, he or she should return to the DMV to present the Form I-797, Notice of Approval, and request that the DMV extend the driver’s license expiration date for a period of one year. The student must return to the DMV every year to extend his or her license for the period of stay in the United States, unless otherwise stated by the DMV office.
The accompanying spouse and/or dependent applying for a driver’s license or state ID should present supporting documentation from the principal nonimmigrant (F-1, J-1, H-1B) to reflect the duration of status, as well as their own. The DMV will look for consistency between the spouse/dependent duration of status and that of the primary visa holder. It is advisable (and, in some states, required) that the principal nonimmigrant accompany his or her spouse and/or dependent applying for a driver’s license and present supporting documentation to validate the duration of status.
If a nonimmigrant applies for a driver’s license or state ID and the issuing DMV is unable to issue it, please fill out the Information for DMV form available at CGPS.
Should an F-1 or J-1 have further questions related to their SEVIS record, please contact SEVP at email@example.com. For all nonimmigrants (F-1, J-1, H-1B) regarding the USCIS Verification Program contact firstname.lastname@example.org. For questions about a specific state’s policy, please contact that state.
ISSS Disclaimer: The information contained on this web site is provided as a service to international students, faculty, staff, employees, and administrators at the University of Delaware, and does not constitute legal advice on any immigration, tax, or other matter. As legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case, and laws are constantly changing, nothing provided herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of official counsel. For assistance on your immigration status, we encourage you to contact an ISS advisor for specific guidance at email@example.com.