DMV Wouldn't Renew Driving License – OPT Expired, H1B Applied

Raghuram Sukumar CPT 17 Comments

Hello, I just went to the local DMV today to renew my driver’s license. I’m currently in OPT CAP GAP. The DMV refused my request, the director of the local branch told me they can only renew my DL to the date on my EAD card. I-20, doesn’t count. My EAD card and DL both expire by next week…the director said: “Sorry, not our problem!” And, guess what…even if I can get my H1B approval next week (which is very unlikely), I will have to pay $20 late fee because my DL will be expired by then! Again, the director said: “Sorry, but that’s the LAW” Yea, law, you win. FML. (I’m in OHIO by the way.)

Driving License Renewal

Renewing Driving License when OPT, H1B is expiring or expired is always a problem.

Immigration department and State DMV don’t have coordination.

I personally know folks who were driving with expired Driving License  (because their I-94 expired).

Even with receipt notice that was filed with USCIS, DMV wouldn’t renew their drivers license. When you have family with kids, wife doesn’t drive and you got to work , you don’t have option but to drive.

So, you end up driving with expired license and hope you don’t get into trouble and get pulled over.

After you have filed for extension with USCIS, you can remain and work for 270 days from the date when H1B  extension is filed. Some officers within DMV are aware of this rule and the will issue DL for 270 days.

If you can use your H1B receipt notice to get DL for like 270 days.

Go to different DMV and try to get DL renewed.

Here in North Carolina, you can get driving license for 270 days with original H1B receipt notice. Ohio should have something similar.

Let me know what happens and do come back to share your experience.


  1. All states will issue temp dl for 1 yr with any visa receipt notice. Once you get approval, they will issue dl till i94 date

    1. That’s not the case. Rules vary by states and if DMV doesn’t know that law, they will deny DL.

      1. Hello guys

        I am in California and in the same boat …. H1B extension filed, waiting for approval and DL is expiring in next few days. Does anyone here have an experience dealing with DMV office in CA with the same situation as I am in? If yes and you successfully got your DL renewed with the receipt, please let me know. Would really appreciate your help 🙂

  2. Hi HSB,

    I am Graduated from state university, New york. My DL expired on may 31st 2012. I have tried in TWO DMVs with my OPT I20, but they are asking employment authorization ID. Now, I am driving with expired DL.

    1. Nevermind …. gather some info abut DMV surely der will DMV that issue license easily just by seeing I20 OPT ..In USA almost everybody having the same problm even me 2. Change the DMV thatsit what u can do…!!! If u want i can say DMV in VA

  3. In MA, they issue DL for 5 yrs and it expires on the birth day of your 5th year. I don’t think the DL expiration date is linked with your I-94 here in MA as I have my DL expiration date 2 years after my I-94 end date.

    1. Ya u may be correct ,.but u should know in USA different rules in diff states…. Previously they usually give like that but now a days most of the states just giving license for just 1 year even if u having 5 year visa…The only thing is everything depend upon the state rule

      1. DMV these days issue visa based on your I-94 or I-20 (for F1). You might have visa for 5 years, but if I-20 is valid only for 2 years, then your Driving license will be issued with 2 years validity. This varies by DMV and States within USA.

      2. Yes.. I know that and my comment specifically talks about MA state only.

  4. Hey Guys,

    I have a question regarding the expiry of the DL/Permit. In New York your DL/Permit carries two dates – temporary status expiry and then the expiry of the DL itself. Which one is the actual expiry date or which one is overridden? I recently got my H!B approval, can I get my DL renewed with the approval letter in hand?


  5. Hey which DMV did you go to in NC. My license expired last week and DMV in Durham, NC is not renewing it as I have not received I797. My employer has filed for extension but they are not willing to consider the filing receipt.

      1. I had no trouble using my receipt for H1B extension at the Carrboro DMV. They issued me a license for 270 days from when my h1b expired. They knew what they were doing and I would not go anywhere else from now. Hope that helps

  6. I tried renewing in Winston Salem, Mount Airy, with I 797 Receipt, saying that H1b application is in process. They did not considered it as valid document. i read at couple of forums saying they are giving for 270 days. But…..

    1. Is anyone successful in renewing drivers license in OH with I797 Receipt, while H1B extension is being processed? Is so which branch? I know my local one sucks big time.

  7. I am in the same situation where I am waiting for my H1B approval, currenty, I am driving without a valid license. Since, it’ll take additional 2 months (approx) to get any decision from USCIS I thought I’ll try getting my license again!!

    DMV (North Carolina) had refused to issue a new license since they could not determine the start and end date for the license validity.

    I found this section USCIS documentation regarding the H1b pending status and duration upto which an individual can continue to work for the “same” employer.

    (quickest would be to search for “240”)

    It says
    “These aliens are authorized to continue employment with the same employer for a period not to exceed 240 days beginning on the date of the expiration of the authorized period of stay. Such authorization shall be subject to any conditions and limitations noted on the initial authorization.”

    Using this I am hoping to convince the DMV folks to issue me either temporary (with auto renewal) or actual license with 8 months validity.

    Hope this helps, FYI, I am no expert in this I am just going to try my luck or just keep driving with an expired license, as much I can :).

    CATEGORY: Applicant with Employment Authorization Document
    Employment Authorization Document (EAD)( I-766)
    Applicants for adjustment of status
    Note: These are individuals applying to become lawful permanent residents.
    Required Documents: Immigration documentation with an alien number or I-94 number
    This can include but is not limited to a form I-797 indicating pending I-485 or pending application for adjustment of status.
    CATEGORY: Applicants for extension of status, change of status, petition for non-immigrant worker, with a pending I-918 application, or other pending category.
    Required Documents: Immigration documentation with an alien number or I-94 number
    This can include but is not limited to a form I-797 indicating a pending application for an extension of status, change of status, petition for non-immigrant worker, or other pending category.

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