These are our experiences getting a driver license and renewing it in the US as a work visa holder and their dependent.
A long hard adventure of learning to drive for the very first time at the age of 37 and the travails of passing the tests - a story for another day.
Driver license renewal
Described below is my experience renewing my driver license after my H-1B renewal. Note that I had not yet gone to India to get a visa stamp in my passport.
- The DMV where I got my driver license sent me a renewal application by mail a couple of months before my license was to expire.
- The mail recommended doing the renewal online - but my attempt to do that at the California DMV website did not go through.
- I was thinking about mailing back the filled out application with a check. But other folks dissuaded me that this does not work for work visa holders. I needed to go to the DMV in person to renew. They were right about this.
- I decided to go the San Jose Driver License Processing Center (DLPC), instead of a regular DMV, since they specialize in licenses. I did not take any appointment, but did a walk-in.
- The person at the entrance asked whether I had filled out an online application to get an electronic confirmation number. I had no idea what she was talking about. She asked me to use one of the computers used for the knowledge test to fill out the online application. I got a confirmation number she wanted after that and got a queue number from her.
- When my queue number was called, the person asked for my current license, passport and I-797A. I noticed that she used the I-94 at the bottom of the I-797A for her application. These documents, plus a fingerprint scan and after taking a photo, I had a temporary driver license valid for 2 months.
- The actual driver license would come by mail.
My spouse though, who is a H4 dependent, could not renew her license. This is because, after a H-1B renewal the DMV requires either a visa stamp in the H4 holder’s passport or a I-94 with the new renewed dates. The immigration folks at my workplace had applied for a I-539, but we had not yet received that updated I-94 for her.