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Useful information about Driver's license & Social Security number

US Immigration Question:

I am in the US in H-4 status. How can I get a California driver's license?


California state law requires that all applicants for an original California driver license to submit proof of legal presence in the United States and provide the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) with a social security number (SSN).

Some examples of acceptable documents to prove legal presence in the US include the following:

  1. US birth certificate,
  2. US passport,
  3. Resident Alien Card (green card),
  4. Valid foreign passport with a valid INS Form I-94 Arrival / Departure card, - Note that students must include a valid Form I-20,
  5. INS Employment Authorization Card,
  6. Temporary green card stamped into a foreign passport, ("Processed for I-551"), and
  7. INS Approval Notice (I-797).

It is important that you bring original documents. Photocopies are nor acceptable.

Applicants for a California driver's license must also provide the DMV with a social security number (SSN). Foreigners without INS work authorization are normally not able to obtain a SSN. However, if you request a SSN from the Social Security Administration (SSA) in order to obtain a driver's license in a state, such as California and Hawaii, that requires a SSN to obtain a driver's license, you might be able to obtain a SSN. This will depend on whether you will be in the US legally long enough to actually get the driver's license. In California, you will need to show the SSA that you will remain in legal status for at least another 60 days. Finally, the SSA will ask applicants who want a SSN because they are trying to get a California driver's license to present a receipt showing that he/she has taken the written driving test.

Visitors who only expect to remain in the US for a short period of time and plan on driving should obtain an international drivers license before traveling.

For further information contact the DMV and ask for the Birth Verification/Legal Presence Fast Facts pamphlet(FFDL-05).