If you are an International Scholar, and intend to drive, you should submit the arrival confirmation form before you apply for a California driver's license.
International Students will not be able to apply for a driver's license/ID until:
1) after 10 days of your arrival,
2) after you attend a Maintaining Legal Status session and
3) the I-Center has registered/validated your record in SEVIS.
If you apply before all 3 steps have been completed, your application may be rejected or face significant delays. Please be aware that registration normally occurs 30 days after the program start date of your I-20/DS-2019.
If you want to apply for a driver's license/ID earlier (after you complete steps 1 & 2), please complete the webform
The California drivers license and identification card have been declared as primary identification documents in this state by the California legislature.
State law requires every applicant for an original California identification (ID) card and drivers license to show verification of birth date and proof of legal presence within the U.S. to help safeguard the accuracy and integrity of departmental documents.
Only the original or a certified copy of one of the following documents is acceptable:
To take your driving test, you will need to:
After you pass your drive test you will be issued an interim license valid for 60 days until you receive your new photo license in the mail. If you did not present complete documentation to verify birth date and legal presence, you will be issued a temporary license valid for 60 days until you complete the documentation requirements. Make sure you provide the DMV with your correct mailing address.
WARNING: International students and scholars applying for a California driver’s license may have to wait up to one year to receive a permanent license. The reason is that the DMV has to go through the extra step of verifying the student’s immigration status with the Immigration Service before issuing a license. If you have not received your license after 60 days, you can write or fax the Sacramento DMV (phone: 916-657-7445 or fax: 916-657-6419) and ask again that they solicit the verification from the Immigration Service. Send to DMV a copy of your passport, 1-94 card, temporary driver’s license and phone number. The DMV will renew your request for verification with the San Francisco USCIS office. In the meantime you should continue to update your temporary license until the permanent license arrives.
For further information please visit the DMV website.
Redwood City DMV 300 Brewster, Redwood City, CA 94063 / Take El Camino to Woodside Road (East), then turn left on Veterans Blvd., and right at Brewster Ave.
Hours: Monday - Friday from 8am-5pm (except on Wed. 9am-5pm) They are open during lunch time but not open on weekends.
Santa Clara DMV 3665 Flora Vista Ave., Santa Clara, CA 95051 / The DMV is one block east of the Lawrence Expressway, at the corner of Granada and Flora Vista.Hours: Monday - Friday from 8am-5pm (except on Wed. 9am-5pm) They are open during lunch time but not open on weekends.
NOTE: The Mountain View DMV is closed for regular customers, but Redwood City or Santa Clara DMV Offices are available. Phone: (800) 777-0133 http://www.dmv.ca.gov/