driver's license

Getting a Driver’s License on K1 Visa During Adjustment of Status

One thing I have noticed about America is it’s reliance on the motor vehicle. Having a car here is an absolute must if you live outside large cities such as New York. Naturally, one of the first tasks a new immigrant wants to complete is obtaining their driver’s license. Although each state has a different requirement for issuing a driver’s license, most require that you are a resident of that state.

Residency requires that you live in a state for a minimum amount of time and have proof of residency. This shows that you intend to stay in the state and make it your home. The residency requirement is unavoidable. New immigrants should brace themselves for using public transportation until they are able to gather proof of residency.

Luckily, I was able to bring my vehicle to the US and wasn’t stuck waiting at home until my husband could drive me places. This was something that I thought ahead about and chose to not sell my car. I was able to continue to drive with my Ontario driver’s license until I was able to convert it to a Colorado driver’s license. If you are able to do this, do it! It makes things so much easier.

Do You Need to Take the Driving Test?

If you have a current valid driver’s license from another country, it is likely that you will not need to complete a driving test. In many states they allow for a 1-to-1 exchange. You just show them your unexpired foreign driver’s license and they will mail you a local license. Sometimes, they ask you to give up your old license or they punch a hole in  so it is no longer valid.

Those of you without a foreign driver’s license – including expired licenses – will need to complete a driving test before you receive your new license. This can vary in each state so give them a call to be sure.

In my case, I didn’t need to redo the driving test and was allowed to trade in my Ontario driver’s license. Honestly, this was great! I probably would have failed the parallel parking portion of the test. If you are given this option, take it.

Documents Needed For Proof of Residency

There are a number of documents that you can use to show proof of residency in your state. I have put together a list below where you can get a list of acceptable documents that can be used to obtain your driver’s license.

List of 50 US States
StateDocuments Needed
AlabamaProof of Residency
AlaskaProof of Residency
ArizonaProof of Residency
ArkansasProof of Residency
CaliforniaProof of Residency
ColoradoProof of Residency
ConnecticutProof of Residency
DelawareProof of Residency
FloridaProof of Residency
GeorgiaProof of Residency
HawaiiProof of Residency
IdahoProof of Residency
IllinoisProof of Residency
IndianaProof of Residency
IowaProof of Residency
KansasProof of Residency
KentuckyProof of Residency
LouisianaProof of Residency
MaineProof of Residency
MarylandProof of Residency
MassachusettsProof of Residency
MichiganProof of Residency
MinnesotaProof of Residency
MississippiProof of Residency
MissouriProof of Residency
MontanaProof of Residency
NebraskaProof of Residency
NevadaProof of Residency
New HampshireProof of Residency
New JerseyProof of Residency
New MexicoProof of Residency
New YorkProof of Residency
North CarolinaProof of Residency
North DakotaProof of Residency
OhioProof of Residency
OklahomaProof of Residency
OregonProof of Residency
PennsylvaniaProof of Residency
Rhode IslandProof of Residency
South CarolinaProof of Residency
South DakotaProof of Residency
TennesseeProof of Residency
TexasProof of Residency
UtahProof of Residency
VermontProof of Residency
VirginiaProof of Residency
WashingtonProof of Residency
Washington, D.C.(DC)Proof of Residency
West VirginiaProof of Residency
WisconsinProof of Residency
WyomingProof of Residency

Most states require the following:

  1. Marriage certificate
  2. Valid proof of residence (utility bill, cable bill)
  3. Valid legal status (NOA, EAD)
  4. SSN

An important thing to note is that your driver’s license is that it is only valid for the length of your legal residency. So, if you currently have an EAD and are waiting for your adjustment of status; it will be valid until the EAD expiration date. It makes more sense to wait for your green card before getting your driver’s license so you avoid paying the fee twice.

Now that you have your state driver’s license, it is time to think about auto insurance. Have your US spouse can add you to their auto policy for your shared vehicle. This will allow you to drive the family car and build up your driving history.

However, your foreign driving record cannot be used in the US to calculate your premium. Some auto insurance companies are able to check Canadian driving records. If they are able to use your past driving record, it may result in lower premiums.

What’s Next After AOS Is Approved

For those of you who chose to wait until your green card arrived, you can now go the DMV with your new card in hand. The nice thing about applying for your driver’s license now is that it will be valid for 2 years. This is the same length as you conditional green card.

The adjustment of status is probably the most difficult part of the entire process. Once you get to removing the conditions on your green card, it should begin to get easier. My adjustment of status took about less than 5 months from start to finish. We had to attend an interview with an immigration officer and it was definitely more difficult than my K1 interview. Now contrast this to our removal of conditions experience: 6 months of waiting and NO interview!

Your new driver’s license gives you the freedom to go where you please. It will also make it easier to find a job because you don’t have to limit yourself to jobs close by. The next thing you should focus on is building your credit so that you can increase your credit score. A credit score is number that indicates how your manage debt. This will allow you to take out a loan in the future without having to pay high interest rates.

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