Driver License & State Identification Card

Eligibility

Any F or J nonimmigrant (including F-2 and J-2) in lawful status may apply for a driver’s license or ID card, per state or territorial law. The nonimmigrant must present necessary supporting documents required to verify legal presence in the United States.

Overview

In every state there is a department that issues driver licenses and non-driver identification (state identification (ID)) cards for residents of that State. A driver license gives you permission to drive in your state of residence and also serves as an official identification card. The non-driver identification or state ID card is only issued for official identification purposes and not for driving. It is good to have a state ID for legal identification for banking, travelling domestically or proving your age (at locations that require age verification).

Driver’s License law varies from state to state. Therefore, students should check with the department of motor vehicle in their state of residence to find out more about the requirements to obtain a driver’ license or state ID.

How to apply for a driver’s license

Before you attain a driver's license and drive in the United States, you may be required to first obtain an instruction permit (learner's permit). A learner’s permit will be issued to you after you take and pass written and vision tests. With a learner’s permit, you may drive only when an adult licensed driver is in the vehicle with you.

When can you apply for a driver’s license or state ID?

Before you apply for a driver’s license or ID you need to be aware of the following:

  • That your SEVIS record is in Active status. Contact International Recruitment and International Services to confirm that your SEVIS record is active.
  • Wait at least ten (10) calendar days from the date of entry into the United States before applying for a driver’s license or state ID to allow the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to transmit your arrival data information to the state’s licensing office.
  • Wait at least two (2) business days from the activation date of your SEVIS record to apply for a driver’s license or state ID to ensure that your active status has been updated in all government relevant databases.

General Requirements

In general every state will require these main documents to issue you a driver’s license or state identification (ID) card: Valid Passport with valid visa (if applicable),

  • I-94 card or a printout of your electronic I-94 admission record available from I-94 Admission Number Retrieval site
  • Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 (your SEVIS record must be active)
  • Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card (Form I-766), if on post-completion OPT
  • Social Security Number or proof of ineligibility for Social Security Number from the Social Security Administration Office
  • Form I-797, “Notice of Action,” in cases of a change of status (e.g., from F-1 to H-1B)
  • Proof of residency such as utility bill (telephone, water, gas, electric, cable etc.), bank statement or housing rental/lease agreement

Additional documents may be required by individual states. Please check with the department of motor vehicle in your state.

Missouri Driver License & Non-driver License Requirements

Missouri law requires all applicants applying for or renewing a Missouri Driver License, Non-driver License (State ID) or Instruction Permit to show proof of lawful presence, proof of identity and proof of residency.

Proof of Lawful Presence

Students must provide documents which indicate their immigration status. All documents must be valid at the time of application. All F-1 and J-1 students must present the following documents:

  • Passport
  • I-94 card or a printout of your electronic I-94 admission record available from I-94 Admission Number Retrieval site
  • A letter from the school issued within 30 days showing verification that you are a current student. You can submit Letter Request Form online.
  • Form I-20 or DS-2019 (your SEVIS record must be active)

Proof of Identity

  • Social Security Number, if you are eligible for one; or
  • Proof of ineligibility for Social Security Number from the Social Security Administration (SSA) Office

Proof of Residency

Present one of the most recent documents below:

  • Utility bill (phone, water, gas, electric, cable etc.)
  • Bank statement
  • Housing rental/lease agreement of your current residence etc.

Other States' Driver License & State ID Requirements

Each state has its own requirements for issuing driver license and state identification or non-driver license to its residents. Please contact the department of motor vehicle in the state you are located to find out the requirements for obtaining a driver license or state ID.

Requirements for Accompanying Dependents

An accompanying dependent who applies for a driver’s license or state ID should present supporting personal status documentation as well as status documentation of the primary status holder. Sometimes DMV offices have difficulty when verifying dependents. The best way to alleviate this problem is for dependents to do the following:

  • Always go to the DMV office with the primary (F-1 or J-1) status holder
  • Bring the following paperwork:
      • The primary and dependent’s most current Form I-94 or a printout of your electronic I-94 admission record available from I-94 Admission Number Retrieval site
      • The primary and dependent’s valid passport with visa (when applicable)
      • Proof of identity (per state requirements)
      • Proof of relationship (e.g., marriage certificate)
      • The primary and dependent’s most current Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 (This is critical when the primary F-1 is on OPT)
      • Employment Authorization Document (EAD) if on post-completion OPT (for F only)