Drivers Licence 101 in USA for H1b F1 or Visa Holders

NOTE: This post was originally started for Texas State, however due to the
increasing confusion regarding paperwork for DL in most states, I have
created a DL Check List Page for all states.

Procedure for obtaining a Drivers license (DL) in USA has been evolving and during the past couple of years we have seen new rules in place.  This blog will summarize and prepare you to apply for a new DL, renew an expiring DL, or apply for change of address on your current DL. Please note this is not an official DPS blog and I highly recommend you read and go through the respective DPS websites of your state for accurate information. This blog aims to bridge the gap between immigration requirements with DL requirements.

Looking for information on DL paperwork requirements for your state? Check out the *** New *** Post DL Check List Page for more information.
This is work in-progress. This is aimed at collecting and providing accurate paperwork requirements for all states in USA. Thanks to you all!

13 Responses

  1. durgeshbhat

    H4 and F2, you will require the passport with the VISA and I-94.
    You will receive a lic with the same date of expiry as your status validity on the VISA.

    Also, soem DPS’s require you to furnish a letter from your employer or school. I would suggest, taking a letter confirming that the candidate is a spouse or dependent of a H1 or F1 induvidual from the HR (for H1)or Acadamic advisor (F1).

  2. swapan

    i was on b2 and converted to f1 last week but i am not working and cannot work for about a year so how do i get my drivers licence in new jersey can u send me the details please if you have what all the documents i need to carry.

    • durgeshbhat

      Swapan, I am reside in the state of Texas. I would advise you to call the office number of your nearest DPS office. They will be able to give you the requirments and documents needed. Generally, one would carry, Passport, Visa, State ID (Non_DL) and a letter of verification from the school. These should be good to get you started.


  3. Jen

    This blog is just awesome!!!! I’ve got a question about a license test..
    I am now waiting for my Opt approval, then can I take a driver’s license test in my situation? or should I just wait for it to be approved? I have a only permit, so I only need to take a road test..

    • durgeshbhat

      I am not sure the state you are giving the road test, but nowadays, atleast in Texas, the DL for Visa holders is issued according to the Visa validity. I assume you have a F1 VISA which is valid for a certain time period. It is always best to call the office number for you local DPS location and get the details. Atleast will get you started.
      Good luck on the test.

  4. amp

    My i94 expires on july 31st 2011and my h1b extension is under progress (not approved yet, expected on august 25th 2011). My Texas driving license will therefore expire on july 31st 2011 (because of i94). Is it legal for me to drive in Texas after my license has expired. Since its ok to stay in US for 180 days even after i94 expires(i have the h1b extension application receipt), does that mean I can drive too? If not, whats the solution? Thanks!

    • durgeshbhat


      Yes it is possible, I have personally not come in this situation yet, but I will be going through a similar situation next year when my VISA expires. Anyhow, here is the answer to your question ( quoted from another blog, see below)

      Dear Guys,

      My H1B visa, I-94 and DL also got expired by today (30-Sep-2010). I talked to DL officers and got the temporary driving license for 3 months upto 31-Dec-2010.

      I have submitted the following documents:
      1. Attorney Letter requesting DL extension for 3 months.(Receipt Number needed)
      2. Copy of my Passport with H1B visa & I-94 pages
      3. Copy of receipt notice of I-129
      4. Employer Letter
      5. Copy of Client Letter
      6. Address proof (My lease agreement)

      Also submit a copy of the USCIS – Case Status page.

      Important Note: Please Talk to senior officer and show the Attorney letter and try to get a temporary DL for 3 months.

      [REF] [Topic: H1B Visa extension wait – Driveres licence near expiry][AUTHOR KANJAY]

  5. laura


    Thank you so much for the info, I’ve been to three DPS offices today and they couldn’t answer my questions. I have a h1b visa registered to TEXAS, can I get my DL in another state?

    • durgeshbhat


      Which state are you trying to get a DL for? The valid document that a government organization will use is a USCIS document, such as I-797 Notice of Action. H1B Visa that is stamped will not mean much as it can expire but your work status can still be active.

      For example, if you entered US on H1B in 2007 Oct and you have a three year VISA stamped, then in 2010 Oct your VISA would have expired, however your employer would have applied for extension and you would have the I-797 Notice of action with the new expiry date for your work status.

      So to answer your question, its not the H1B visa, but the I-797 Notice of action, that should be valid and can be from any state. Offcourse you will need valid government IDs such as Passports, SSN card and I-94, depending on the State.

      Let me know what you find out.

      “Always try and educate the people in the DPS about these immigration terminologies, some day, somebody will understand 🙂 immigration in this country formed by immigrants.”

  6. Anna Shen

    I just went to NJ DMV today and got my DL renewed for another 8 month. At last they do not let me renew with only receipt notice, then i asked them to ask their superviser. The superviser seemed to know this situation and finally they let me renew. It was painful process, since 3 people questioned me and each people went to ask their supervisor. You just need to be patient. Bring your old expired I-797 and the new receipt notice is enough. I also brought in the letter from my employer saying that they filed the H1B extension before it expires and it is under review currenly but the DMV did not take a look. Just explain it to them ask to speak to the supervisor.

    • hjaiswal

      hi , i am in the same situation my DL expires next week , i have a texas DL i went to TX DMV office this morning and they refused renew it . i am planning on going to NJ DMV to renew my DL. my H1b extension is pending . can you please tell which DMV office you went to i would really appreciate it .

      • Anna Shen

        I went to this one. But are you sure with TX driver license, they will let you renew in NJ?

        North Bergen
        Park Plaza
        8901 Park Plaza
        90th & Bergenline Avenue
        North Bergen, NJ 07047

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