Obtaining a Driver’s License for International Students
A car can be a necessity in college. You have the freedom of creating your own schedule. Just select the destination, take the keys, hop into your car and start the engine. You will be there in no time.
International students in the United States can receive a valid driver’s license in addition to a social security number they need to start working. Here are the tips you need to receive your driving license as a student within a shorter period.
Do not apply for the license immediately you enter the country
Actually, everyone would like to receive the student’s driving license immediately after entering the country. In fact, it will feel good when you start driving on the second or third day of your arrival. By waiting at least ten days, you will be able to save up to 20 days of waiting for the driving license. The government databases take at least ten days to update with your personal information. Meanwhile, you have to talk to the designated school official (DSO). They will educate you about the driving rules and regulations within your state of residence.
Ensure that your DSO has activated your record in SEVIS
The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) is a database that manages information for all male and female students in addition to the J exchange visitors in the United States. After checking in for a program or registering for classes, your DSO will activate your personal records. Before applying for the driving license, you have to talk to the DSO to check whether you are already active on the SEVIS.
Wait for another two days after the DSO has activated you on SEVIS
After you are sure that the DSO has activated your records in the SEVIS, you have to wait for another two business days to apply for the driver’s license. That time will be enough for the databases to update with the new information. Even though most people do not consider this step, it can save you over 20 days of waiting.
You can obtain a driver’s license or an identification card in the state of Florida at the nearest Department of Motor Vehicles Office. The driver’s license will remain valid for one year and you can renew it until your student’s program has ended. Any F-1 student who has completed optional practical training or course of study may get a license that remains valid for another 60 days. The 60 days is enough for them to work on transfer.
To get a driving license as an international student, requirements:
- Non-immigrant classification proof (you can get it from the United States Department of Homeland Security)
- J-1 or F-1 status documentation
- Two original documents to prove your residence (such as utility bills, cell phone bills and apartment lease)
- SSN card (if you have one)
If you have a foreign driver’s license, you should also bring this. That might help you get exempted from the driving test, or the Alcohol Traffic Education Course.
International Students and Driving In Florida
You can obtain a driver’s license at the nearest Department of Motor Vehicles office. The driver’s license remains valid for a single year and you can renew it until the end of your study program. Any F-1 student who has completed his/her course of study or the optional practical training may apply for another license that remains valid for 60 days. The license allows them to complete transfer process or to prepare for departure. If you are a J-1 student or a scholar who has finished the exchange visitor program, you can get an extra 30-day period.
The department also allows the same amount of time for dependants of both F-1 and J-1 students and scholars. To get a driver’s license in the state of Florida, you will need the following items:
- Non-immigration classification proof which the United States’ Department of Homeland Security provides
- Documents to prove your F-1 or J-1 student status
- Two original documents to show proof of your residence. That includes cell phone bills, original transcripts, apartment lease and utility bills. If you live on campus, you will have to visit the Department of Housing and Residential Life for the proof. Any official letter such as a bank letter that you received through the on-campus address is adequate proof of residence. If you are living with your parents, ensure that they have signed the statement available at the nearest Department of Motor Vehicles office. They should also provide proof of residence both in the student’s name and in their name.
- SSN Card, if you have one
If you already have your foreign driver’s license, you should take it with you. You might be exempted from the compulsory driving tests and the Drug and Alcohol Traffic Education course.
Driving Under the Influence of Chemical Substances, Alcoholic Beverages or Controlled Substances
Under the law of Florida, DUI is an offense that is proved by unlawful breath alcohol or blood alcohol level above .08. Upon conviction, the penalties are the same regardless of the method of proving the offense. You might have your Visa revoked following a DUI.
The United States’ Department of State has been revoking visa foils of foreign nationals convicted or arrested for driving under influence (DUI), driving when intoxicated (DWI) or the related criminal charges. The department notifies people of their visa cancellation through the email address they used to apply for the visa.
If your visa is prudentially revoked, you will have to get another one to remain in the United States after travelling abroad temporarily. To get the visa, a panel physician has to conduct a medical screening, which might result in visa delay or denial. Students with a revoked visa should consult an immigration attorney.
Operating a vehicle without a driver’s license in Florida is a serious crime. The driver’s license displays your picture and contact information and it is therefore a universally accepted personal identification document. It also helps identification of the driver if an accident occurs. If you are unable to communicate with first responders due to severe injuries, they will search your wallet and pockets for the driver’s licence to identify you. The name and address will help them contact your family.