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Driver's License

International Students have three options for driving in Illinois.
  1. You may drive on a valid foreign driver’s license while legally a student in the U.S. 
  2. If you have a social security #, you may apply for a regular driver’s license.
  3. If you do NOT have a social security #, you may apply for a Temporary Visitor’s Driver’s License (TVDL)
 
1. You may drive on a valid foreign driver’s license while legally a student in the U.S. 
From the Illinois Secretary of State website:
May I “drive in Illinois while visiting from another country?
You may drive in Illinois with your valid license from your own country during your stay. This also applies to your spouse and children living with you while attending an Illinois college or university. However, an International License is not valid in the State of Illinois.” If you choose to drive on a valid foreign license, you should consider driving with your passport (to demonstrate your legal status) and a certified translation of your license if it is not in English. Please read Illinois Rules of the Road.
From the Illinois Rules of the Road:
“Individuals may drive in IL without a valid Illinois driver’s license under the following circumstance:
• If you are an out-of-state student attending an Illinois college/university, you, your spouse and children may drive with a valid license from your home state or country.”

2. You May Apply for a Driver’s License (DL)
  1. Non citizens with a Social Security #
  2. Cost: $5 for those ages 18-20 or $30 for those ages 21+
  3. Driver education course required (ages 18-20 only, first time drivers with no previous license). Use this link to find a certified driver's education course provider.
“If the individual is a first-time Illinois driver’s license applicant, age 18, 19 or 20 and never been licensed or completed an approved high school or commercial school driver education program, he/she must successfully complete a six-hour Adult Driver Education Course through a Secretary of State certified adult driver education provider before obtaining a license. More information is available by visiting www.cyberdriveillinois.com.”-- Rules of the Road 2017
  1. Successfully complete vision screening, written test, and road test [you must bring a car, driven by someone else, to take the road test in. Car must have up to date insurance/registration and must meet legal requirements to drive (signals work, etc.)].
  2. Individuals eligible for a DL may obtain an instruction permit allowing them to practice driving before taking their road exam. To obtain an instruction permit, the applicant must visit one of the designated Driver Services facilities (BloomingtonCarbondaleChampaignChicago NorthChicago WestMacombRockfordSpringfield (Dirksen Parkway)) and meet the requirements for obtaining a license for the first time.
  3. Required documentation to apply found here: 
    1. We recommend you bring your I-20 document in addition to the required documentation
    2. If you live on campus, please ask your DSO to write you a Residency Letter to take in addition to your residency documents (bank statement, bills, etc.)
  4. **Very Important** If offered the option to register to vote (through your application process), please select “NO” since as a non-citizen you are not eligible for voting.
    1. ‚ÄčYou will also be asked if you want to join the IL Organ Donor Registry, please be prepared to answer.
 
3. Temporary Visitor’s Driver’s License (TVDL) valid for three years or until your authorized stay in the U.S. ends.
  1. Non-citizens without a Social Security #
  2. Authorized to be in the U.S. for at least one year
  3. At least 6 months left in the U.S.
  4. Cost: $5 for those ages 18-20 or $30 for those ages 21+
  5. Driver education course required (ages 18-20 only, first time drivers with no previous license)
 
 “If the individual is a first-time Illinois driver’s license applicant, age 18, 19 or 20 and never been licensed or completed an approved high school or commercial school driver education program, he/she must successfully complete a six-hour Adult Driver Education Course through a Secretary of State certified adult driver education provider before obtaining a license. More information is available by visiting www.cyberdriveillinois.com.”--From Rules of the Road 2017
 
  1. Successfully complete vision screening, written test, and road test.
  2. Individuals eligible for a TVDL may obtain an instruction permit allowing them to practice driving before taking their road exam. To obtain an instruction permit, the applicant must visit one of the designated Driver Services facilities (BloomingtonCarbondaleChampaignChicago NorthChicago WestMacombRockfordSpringfield (Dirksen Parkway)) and meet the requirements for obtaining a license for the first time.
  3. You don’t need a social security #.  
 
Steps to obtain the TVDL:
  1. Make an appointment at a Secretary of State (SOS) Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Facility that handles TVDL for either an “instruction permit” or a TVDL. Call 855-236-1155 for questions and appointments related to the TVDL. The “instruction permit” allows you to practice driving before applying for the TVDL.
 
Chicago West
18.6 miles
5301 W. Lexington St.
Chicago, IL 60644
312-793-1010
 
Chicago North
19.9 miles
5401 N. Elston Ave.
Chicago, IL 60630
312-793-1010
 
Rockford Central
54.3 miles
3720 E. State St.
Rockford, IL 61108
815-394-0179
 
  1. Visit a Social Security Administration (SSA) office to obtain a letter verifying your ineligibility for a Social Security number. We suggest 230 W Lake St, Bloomingdale, IL ‎(800) 772-1213. Take your passport, I-20, and I-94.
  2. Study the Secretary of State’s publication “Rules of the Road” available from any Department of Motor Vehicle office or on-line. You’ll have to pass a written test.
  3. Practice driving.
  4. Make sure you have liability insurance.
     6. Keep the appointment with the Secretary of State Dept. of Motor Vehicles. Bring the required documentation, the $30 fee, and be prepared to take the written,     vision and driving tests(you must bring a car, driven by someone else, to take the road test in).
 
Acceptable documentation.
  1. Prove you are who you say you are: passport (bring I-20 as well)
  2. Prove you DON’T have a social security number: “the applicant must submit a letter on Social Security Administration letterhead with each application, issued within 90 days prior to the date of application, verifying ineligibility for a Social Security number.”
  3. Prove residency: two of the following items. Bank statement, cancelled check, letter on official school letterhead (dated within 90 days prior to application), tuition invoice or official mail from a college or university dated within the 12 months prior to application.  The applicant’s complete address of residence must be included. (School ID, insurance card, library card, personal mail is NOT acceptable)
For more information:
Illinois Secretary of State website, 1-800-252-8980
dmv.org

Graduated and need to renew your Driver's License? 
If your program of study has completed, it is likely that your driver's license has expired. Please note that you can only renew your IL driver's license if you have been approved for OPT or have received a new I-20 from another IL institution where you plan to continue your studies. If you are planning to leave the country during your 60 day grace period, you may not have a valid license to drive. If you are moving out of state to a attend a new institution you may want to apply for a new license in that state.

If approved for OPT, please go to the nearest Secretary of State facility to request a renewal of your license. Take your new Employment Authorization Document (EAD), proof of new mailing address, your expired license, and expect to pay a $30 renewal fee.