Even though the public transport system in the U.S. is exceptionally well-connected, many people still rely on driving as their mode of transportation. Suppose you are an international citizen traveling to the U.S. and intend on driving your vehicle here. In that case, you will require a driving license as the primary eligibility requirement to drive on the roads. But, being a foreigner, things might get a little tricky if you are not well aware of the rules and regulations and how long you can use a foreign license in the United States.
Applying for a U.S. driving license as an immigrant
To receive a driving license in the U.S., you must pass the written test and take the physical driving test. Depending on the state you are living in, you have to go to a DMV (Department of Motor Vehicle) or DPS (Department of Public Safety). Both are essentially the same; different names in different states know them.
The written part of the U.S. driving test involves questions on road laws, safety procedures, and more. To get better and more in-depth information, google the online quizzes that will help you study for your driver's test. Don't forget to check the state's website and consult the reading materials, along with a copy of the state's driving handbook.
Once you have cleared the written test and get your instruction permit (I.P.) or temps, you are allotted a specific time to practice for the driving test. Some states have a rule that you have to take I.P. for a week before taking a road test, whereas some other states waive it off if you have an international driving permit. The best way to get information about it is to check with the DMV.
Requirements of getting a driving license on H1B and L1, visa
To get a U.S. driving license under H1B and L1 visa, you have to show
- I-94 card
- Identity details like name, date of birth
- Your current legal status in the U.S., like H1B, L1 visa
- Your residency status in the state- proof that you live in the state
To prove that you have these documents, you need to furnish the original copies of:
- Passport along with valid U.S. Visa Stamping in it
- I-94 card (white card given at the port of entry)
- Social Security Number (SSN) card (not applicable for F1 students without a job)
- Utility bills, like electricity or phone bill under your name
- Rental lease paper with your name on it
- Bank account statements of U.S. banks (mailed to your home address)
- H1B or L1 approval notice ( I797 approval form)
International driving license
After you receive your green card, you will be eligible to apply for an International Driving Permit (IDP), and it will allow you to drive in 150 countries all over the world. This is an ideal permit if you plan to travel to other countries or rent a car. Additionally, it is also important to note that the U.S. Department of the State authorizes only two organizations in the United States to issue an IDP: the American Automobile Association (AAA) and the American Automobile Touring Alliance (AATA). Consult with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) if you're ever unsure.
U.S. driving license renewal
Driving licenses usually expire after a few years, but again, the expiration date varies from state to state. Hence it's best to consult with your state. While renewing your license, remember to check the documentation that you will need by visiting the state's website you're living in.
How long is your foreign driving license valid?
Visitors can drive up to 3 months with a foreign driving license. After this, your foreign license expires, and you have to obtain an IDP if you want to continue driving. It is also essential to keep in mind that the U.S. doesn't issue IDP to short-term visitors.
Requirements to drive in the U.S.
To legally drive in the U.S., you have to:
- Be at least 18 years old at the time of driving
- You should either have a valid state-issued driving license, foreign driving license, or an international driving permit. Expired licenses are not allowed
- It would be best if you did not have any medical condition that might interfere with or make you unfit for driving
- You should follow all the driving laws and regulations of the state