Driving License While OPT or STEM OPT Application is Pending

Question: How to renew Drivers License (DL) while OPT, STEM OPT is pending?

This is the MOST frequently asked question by Members on the Facebook Group. The second most popular question is Status of OPT/STEM OPT application.

And there are 100’s of different answers from those who were able to get 30 Days Temporary Drivers License to extended period validity.

Having said that, here are few examples of how F1 students with pending OPT or STEM OPT application got their DL renewed.

Example 1:

Rules vary from state to state.

I was on the in a similar situation  – RFE and it was beyond my EAD dates. USCIS was still adjudicating my application.

I wrote a very strong letter to The Director department of transportation through the contact us section stating my reasons and how it affects my day to day job and life.  I narrated the chain of events how all my renter’s insurance are tied to my driver’s licenses and how I can’t even get to a grocery story. I live in rural Pennsylvania. Not connected by buses, trains or cabs. I did send them my notices and copy of RFE from USCIS.

I did get a response and they made arrangements to issue me a driver’s license for the remainder of the validity.

I emailed the DMV director telling following

  • No public transportation in my city
  • Without license, I can’t drive to work
  • I can’t buy my daily grocery shopping
  • I can’t starve, hence ordering food online and eating unhealthy food.
  • My STEM OPT RFE is being processed and I can work fill for 180 days since expiration of my initial OPT why aren’t u allowing me to drive ?

These were a part of my email complaint to DMV as well.

Next morning I got a call from the Assistant Director and I explained my situation. He said he will make arrangements to issue send a temporary driver’s license for a month as they were able to see my immigration status .

Fortunately next morning I had my EAD card in mailbox . Out of curiosity I checked online my case status and it still said thanks for mailing documents for the RFE

This was my experience.

States use the SAVE program to validate the applicant’s Immigration Status when they request the Drivers License. Not all the States in the US participate in the Save Program.

If you in California, you can get AB60 Drivers License while USCIS application is pending.

Quick Notes:

  • Each DMV would have rules specific to their location.
  • If one DMV location doesn’t work, find the nearest one.
  • DMV could issue the DL only after your Immigration Status is confirmed (via SAVE Program)
  • If they can’t confirm your Immigration Status, you should ask to request them to Submit a manual SAVE Request
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