State ID / Driver’s License

It is a good idea to obtain a Driver’s license on your arrival in US if you plan to keep a car. You can also rent cars and SUVs for short trips.

Getting a driver’s license is a two step process:

Learner’s Permit

First you need to present required documents take a computer based test to get a Learner’s Permit. The required documents include Passport, I-20, SSN card and Proof of residency in Virginia (e.g. a bank statement with your name and address plus a letter received in post with your name and current address on it). For the current list of required documents, see GEO website.

To prepare for the computer based knowledge exam, you will have to read the Virginia Driver’s Manual. Be familiar with road signs and traffic rules of Virginia.

Driver’s License

To get a Driver’s License, you need to take a road skills test. If you already know how to drive, just practice for a few hours and you are ready for the test. Please note that you can get a Driver’s License after you held a learners permit at least 30 days before taking the DMV road skills test. As per the current rules, you cannot take the test on a rented vehicle. The License you get is valid till the date mentioned on your I-20. Check the DMV website for current information.

State ID

If you are not planning to drive in near future or are too lazy to take the knowledge test for learners permit, you may just get a State ID. It is just a photo ID with your name, address, date of birth etc printed on it. To get this ID, you need to show the above mentioned documents but don’t need to take any test.

August 27, 2013