Applying for a driver’s license or state identification card – Part II


By Michael Phulwani
The US Department of Homeland Security, Student Exchange Visitor Program has published a fact sheet in July 2009 to provide F, M or J nonimmigrants and their respective school/program officials with basic information on obtaining a driver’s license or state identification (ID). This is the concluding part of the article which provides information from this fact sheet.

What should the 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 the I-94 data be corrected?

US 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:
l Improper nonimmigrant classification;
l Inaccurate biographical information;
l 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.

What should the nonimmigrant do if a DMV office denies issuing a driver’s license if his or her Form I-20 is not stamped?
There is no federal requirement that a nonimmigrant student maintain a stamped Form I-20. It is common for a student to have a current Form I-20 that does not contain a stamp. While there is no requirement that a nonimmigrant student maintain a stamped Form I-20, SEVP recommends that all nonimmigrants have their most recently stamped form I-20 available, as well as their transfer documentation, to prove status while in the United States.

Can a nonimmigrant apply for a driver’s license if his/her Form I-20 has expired?
Yes. However, the nonimmigrant should consult with the DMV office and DSO before applying for a driver’s license. The DMV requires a nonimmigrant to present supporting documentation such as 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.

What documents should a student on the cap-gap extension present to verify legal presence?
A student on the cap-gap extension should present an updated Form I-20 that shows the extension of stay. If eligible for the cap-gap extension, a student’s SEVIS records should be updated with the extension, (either through an interface with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) database or by a DSO) when a cap-gap H-1B petition is filed on the nonimmigrant student’s behalf. Once SEVIS is updated, the DSO can print the updated Form I-20 and provide it to the nonimmigrant.

When the student receives the approval notice of the H1-B 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/her license for the period of stay in the United States, unless otherwise stated by the DMV office.

What are the requirements for an accompanying spouse and/or dependent?
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, M-1 or J-1) to reflect the duration of status, as well as their own. The DMV will look for consistency between spouse/depen-dent duration of status and that of the primary visa holder. It is advisable (and, in some states, required) that the principal nonimmigrant ac-company his/her spouse and/ or dependent applying for a driver’s license and present supporting documentation to validate the duration of status. The DSO should ensure that the principal nonimmigrant’s documents, as well as those of the spouse and/or dependent reflect the appropriate duration of status, including practical training or cap- gap extension.

What are the information requirements for problem resolution requests?
If a non immigrant applies for a driver’s license or ID and the issuing DMV is unable to issue it, the DSO/RO should email SEVP for assistance at In the email’s subject line write the following: DMV Issue- (name of the state). Also provide the following information:
l Applicant’s name
l Nonimmigrant’s Form I-94 admissions number (11 digits) or alien registration number (9 digits)
l SEVIS number
l Date of birth
l Address of the DMV off-ice where the person experienced the problem, and a receipt number (if available)
l Date the applicant visited the DMV office
l Contact address and phone number or email address for the applicant (in case the DMV office needs to contact the person)
l Explanation of the problem.

Once SEVP receives the email, a representative will review the case and enter the student’s SEVIS ID number into the SEVIS, based on the information in SEVIS, the representative may contact the DSO directly and explain why the student could not receive a driver’s license or a state identification card. In all other cases, the SEVP representative will send an email to the appropriate  DMV state representative and request the case be reviewed. The representative reviews the case within one or two business days. When the case is resolved, SEVP notifies the DSO or RO immediately.

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