Take the Test: Driving in the United States

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If you want to drive a car to class, the grocery store, or a friend’s house, you need a driver’s license! Read how to obtain one from our friends at the Department of Homeland Security.

For an F or M student in the United States, you have the benefit of obtaining a driver’s license. To get one, you must:

  • Talk to your designated school official (DSO) to make sure you are in Active status in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS)
    • Your name and birthdate must also be correct in SEVIS


  • Wait 10 days after arriving in the country to apply
    • Some states require that you have at least six months left on your Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status,” to apply for a driver’s license. Talk to your DSO and check your state’s department of motor vehicles (DMV) website to see if this applies to you


  • Apply for a Social Security number (SSN) (if required by your state)


  • When you visit your local DMV, bring documents to prove you are legally in the United States. Your name, birthday and status must match these documents so it is important to check before you go. Bring the following:
    • Signed Form I-20
    • Form I-94, “Arrival/Departure Record,”
    • Valid passport with visa if applicable
    • Form I-766, “Employment Authorization Document,” if on post-completion optional practical training
    • Form I-797, “Notice of Action” if you have changed your status,
    • SSN, if required, and
    • Proof of residence.

You may also have to take a written test and driving test to obtain a license. DMV representatives can give you information on all of the necessary requirements. Learn more about how to apply on our Driver’s License Application Process page. If you have any questions, talk to your DSO.


This article is provided by Study in the States, a blog sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

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