All F1/F2 visa holders may be eligible for driver’s license while in the US. However, those who wish to operate a vehicle must successfully apply for and receive a driver’s license. Driving a car without a driver’s license is illegal. To acquire a driver’s license, you must apply for one at your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). 


Driver’s License Application Process 

Every state has different requirements for how to get a driver’s license. Generally, these steps include but are not limited to the following: 

  • Always check with your local DMV first prior to going and applying. Be prepared to complete a written or practical test. 

  • Make sure your SEVIS record is in Active status.  

  • Wait 10 days after arriving in the US to apply for a driver's license so that your Form I-94, “Arrival/Departure Record,” indicating F-1 nonimmigrant status: information can update in all the government systems. 

  • Obtaining your Social Security card (SSN) if required by your state or territory.  

NOTE: You can request a Letter of Ineligibility, also referred to as a denial letter, from the Social Security Administration (SSA) stating that you are not eligible for a Social Security card. 

  • Visit and submit the proper documentation and fees to the DMV. 


The DMV may need to verify your nonimmigrant student status to determine if you are eligible for a driver’s license. Most of the DMVs across the nation use the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) Program. To find out more about this program, please visit the Checking Your SAVE Case Status page. 


Required Documentation 

When you apply for a driver's license at your local DMV, make sure to bring original copies of the following documents: 

  • Your most recent active Form I-20   

  • valid passport and your most recent student visa. 

  • I-94 card (if issued paper I-94) or I-94 printout (if issued electronic I-94). Refer to the automated I-94 process. 

  • Proof of residence. This varies from state to state. Examples include rental agreement, bank statement, paycheck stub, current, unexpired license or ID, vehicle registration, auto insurance card or utility bill with the same name and address. 

  • If your state requires it, an SSN card, or a denial letter.  

  • If you are on OPT, bring your EAD card. The DMV will use the A number on this card to verify your status. 

  • An Enrollment Verification Letter from the Office of Records and Registration may be required by your state. 

*Please note, required documents may vary by state. Please contact your local DMV to learn which documents will be required.  


If you are an F-2 dependent, go to the DMV with your primary F-1 and make sure you both have all required documents. 


After a successful application process, a DMV official will explain the next steps for obtaining your driver’s license. It is normal for some nonimmigrants to only get temporary licenses. If approved, you may receive the license immediately or wait several weeks, depending on the state. 


Additional requirements  

A driver’s license applicant may also need to pass both a driving and written test. If you have a driver’s license from your home country or another state, you may not be required to take the tests. However, this will vary by state.  

If you have trouble applying for a driver’s license, please reach out to us.