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Below you will find answers to frequently asked questions regarding DPS and driver licenses. If you cannot find the answer here, please contact us at 713-348-6095 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the movies and TV shows people always talk about DMV, but OISS says DPS. Which is it?
Unlike some other U.S. states, Texas has DPS. Though Texas does also have a Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), for Driver License applications, renewals, etc. you should visit the Department of Public Safety (DPS).
Can I apply for a Driver License without a Social Security Number?
Yes. If you do not have a Social Security Number (SSN), you may still apply for a Driver License, but you will be asked to complete an affidavit confirming that you do not have a SSN as you are not currently eligible to get one. If you do have a SSN, you must present your SSN card when applying for a Driver License.
What documents do I need to take with me when applying for a Driver License?
All of your immigration documents (I-20/DS-2019/other relevant immigration document such as a USCIS Approval Notice, passport, I-94 record), Social Security Card if you have one, the required proof of Texas residency documents, confirmation that you have completed the online Impact Texas Driver (ITD) course, and – if you are under the age of 25 – a certificate of a driver education course. You will also need to provide registration and insurance proof for any and all motor vehicles you may own.
What is SAVE?
SAVE (Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements) is a U.S. Department of Homeland Security program used by, among others, DPS and the Social Security Administration to verify the lawful presence of international visitors in the United States. To learn more about SAVE and the process, please see http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/DriverLicense/documents/verifyingLawfulPresence.pdf.
What is the 30 day residency requirement?
You need to be a resident in Texas (i.e. have an address in Texas where you receive mail and services) for at least 30 days in order to be eligible for a Texas Driver License. This requirement is waived if you have a valid, unexpired U.S. Driver License from another state, but please note that you are still required to present documentation to prove your Texas residency.
My license from another U.S. state has already expired. Does the 30 day residency requirement apply to me and do I have to take the tests again?
Yes to both. If your out-of-state Driver License has already expired, you are subject to all the requirements for a new applicant.
What documents can I use as proof for the 30 day residency requirement?
Please see the list here: http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/DriverLicense/residencyReqNonCDL.htm. Please note that although the list includes the I-20 and DS-2019 forms, DPS does not actually consider them as proof of residency as neither form contains your residential address.
Can I get a letter from OISS verifying my residency?
Unfortunately not. If you live on campus, you can request a letter of verification from the following:
Why does OISS tell me to wait 3-4 weeks before going to DPS? 3-4 weeks from what?
3-4 weeks from your SEVIS registration. For J-1 scholars, we complete SEVIS registration immediately after you have checked in with OISS. For F-1 students, however, it may take longer, as there are multiple requirements that must be met before we can complete your SEVIS registration. Typically this is not an issue since you will need to wait 30 days to meet the residency requirement, and by that time we have completed your SEVIS registration. If you believe you are not subject to the 30 day residency requirement, please check with OISS before going to DPS to make sure that your SEVIS registration has been completed. F-1 students will also receive an updated I-20 after SEVIS registration.
I am under 25 years old, is there something extra I need to do?
Yes, you will need to complete a driver education course before applying for a Driver License. For more information, please see http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/DriverLicense/DriverEducationChecklist.htm. Please note that if you have a valid, unexpired license from another U.S. state, Canada, France, Germany, South Korea, or Taiwan, this requirement is waived.
How long will my Driver License be valid?
Your Driver License should be valid until the end date of your I-20 + 60 days or DS-2019 + 30 days, as DPS is currently considering the “grace period” as part of the Driver License validity. Please note that this does not seem to be the case when the student is on OPT, but the Driver License is issued until the end date of the OPT only. Based on our experience dependents also seem to get their license only until the end date of their immigration document, without the “grace period”.
How does OPT affect my eligibility for a Driver License?
You will need to have your EAD card together with the rest of your immigration documents before you’re eligible to renew your Texas Driver License. If your OPT application is still pending and it is after your I-20 end date, you are typically not eligible for a Driver License renewal. If you are applying for a 24-month STEM OPT extension, you will need your new EAD card with the rest of your immigration documents. A receipt notice for your application is not generally considered sufficient.
Can I renew my Driver License during my period of Cap Gap?
Driver License renewals during the Cap Gap extension are uncertain. You are welcome to visit DPS and apply, but we cannot guarantee that your application will be successful, as it depends on the information DPS receives from the SAVE system. If you wish to try to renew your license during the Cap Gap extension, please request an updated I-20 from OISS reflecting the Cap Gap. You should also take your H-1B Approval Notice with you to DPS.
I’m applying for a Change of Status and my Driver License is about to expire. Can I renew it?
Only if your current immigration status is still valid at the time of your renewal application. Otherwise you need to wait until your Change of Status is approved and you have an update I-94 record reflecting your new status.
I got my Driver License but DPS sent my dependent away saying they can’t verify his/her status. Is this something I should worry about?
No, it seems to be a normal situation for dependents. DPS seems to be consistently unable to verify dependent status for F-2 and J-2 visa holders on the spot through the SAVE system. You can expect to receive a letter from DPS in approximately 2 – 3 weeks notifying you that the lawful status has been verified and you may return to DPS to resume your application. We understand that this is an inconvenience and are communicating with DPS to hopefully get this problem resolved, but for now it seems to be a consistent issue for all dependents.
Which DPS office should I go to?
You are welcome to visit any location in Texas (http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/administration/driver_licensing_control/rolodex/search.asp).
How long can I drive without a Texas License?
If you have a valid, unexpired Driver License from another U.S. state, you may drive with that License for up to 90 days. A valid, unexpired Driver License from another country is also accepted for 90 days, but we strongly recommend that you have an International Driver’s Permit (IDP) with your license. The IDP is a document that can only be secured in your home country. After living in Texas for more than 90 days, you may only drive with a valid Texas Driver License.
I heard that if I have a license from a certain country, I don’t have to take the tests. Is this true?
Yes. If you have a valid, unexpired license from Canada, France, Germany, South Korea, or Taiwan you do not have to take the computer and road tests, based on a license reciprocity agreement that these countries have with Texas. If you have a valid, unexpired learner license from Canada, France, Germany, South Korea, or Taiwan, you do not have to take the computer test but the road test is still required. Please note that in either case you are required to surrender your foreign license when applying for a Texas Driver License. If you wish to keep your home country license, you need to complete all the testing when applying for a Texas license.
My Texas Driver License is expiring soon, can I renew it online?
No. Only U.S. citizens are allowed to renew their Texas Driver License online. International applicants must always apply and renew the licenses in person at a DPS office.
I took a Leave of Absence from Rice and my Texas Driver License expired while I was away. Do I need to take the tests again?
It depends on when your Texas Driver License expired. If your license expired less than 2 years ago, you are considered to be renewing your license, and you do not need to take the computer and road tests again. If your license expired more than 2 years ago, your application is considered to be for a new, initial license, and you are subject to all the requirements for a new applicant.
I don’t need a Driver License but I would like to get a Texas State ID. What are the requirements for that?
The requirements are very similar to those when applying for a Texas Driver License, and the 30 day residency requirement applies to Texas IDs as well. When applying for a Texas ID, you will need to provide all of your immigration documents (I-20/DS-2019/other relevant immigration document such as a USCIS Approval Notice, passport, I-94 record), Social Security Card if you have one, and the required proof of Texas residency documents.
I received a notification from Selective Service System in the mail. What is it and does it have anything to do with my recent Driver License application?
All male U.S. citizens who are 18 – 25 years old are required to register with Selective Service System (SSS). This means that in a military crisis requiring a draft, they may be called into service. SSS registration is sometimes tied into Driver License applications, so international male students who are 18 – 25 years old may be registered automatically when applying for a Driver License. Students and scholars on a non-immigrant visa status are exempt for registering with SSS, so if you get a notice that you have been registered, you should remove yourself from the list by following the instructions on the notice. This usually includes sending the original notice back with a copy of your I-94 record to prove your non-immigrant status. You may wish to make a copy of the notice for your records before sending it back. For more information about the Selective Service System, please see http://www.sss.gov/.
I’m moving away from Texas. Can I drive in my new home state with my Texas license for up to 90 days?
Each state determines their own Driver License rules and regulations. This information only applies to the state of Texas, and the information for any other U.S. state may be different. Please refer to the website of your new home state for their Driver License regulations and requirements.
Do you guarantee that all this information is accurate?
Unfortunately due to DPS regularly updating their regulations and their interpretation of the rules, we cannot always guarantee that we have the most current information. Therefore it is always best to check the DPS website http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/ for the most accurate information.