How to Apply for a US State ID as an International Student

International students usually have a long and challenging road ahead of them when pursuing their education in the United States. Aside from securing affordable housing and learning English to improve fluency, international students must tackle various administrative tasks to stay in the country legally. Obtaining a state ID as an international student is one such task, as this photo identification document is necessary for proving your identity and residency status when using other services provided by state agencies. To help you out with this tricky but crucial task, we’ve put together some helpful tips on how to apply for a US state ID as an international student.


What is a US State ID?

A state ID is an identification card issued by the state government. State IDs are used primarily as an identification document, but they are also accepted as proof of address. If you’re a student, you’ll most likely be required to present a state ID when boarding a plane or buying alcohol. You might be wondering, how is a state ID different from a driver’s license? Although both of these IDs serve the same purpose, they have different requirements, issuance procedures, and costs. For example, a state ID does not allow you to drive, get insurance, or get a job. On the other hand, a state ID allows you to board a plane, be employed in certain occupations, and receive certain federal benefits. A state ID is useful for proving your identity and valid address in your state of residence, but is not considered a valid form of federal identification. Therefore, students are generally advised to keep their passports with them when traveling abroad and using other federal services.


Who Needs to Apply for a US State ID?

All international students studying in the United States are required to apply for a state ID. Keep in mind that this identification document is different from your visa. A visa is a document issued by the U.S. government, allowing you to study in the country for a given period of time. A state ID, on the other hand, is issued by the state government of your resident state, for the purpose of confirming your address and identity. You must have a valid and unexpired state ID in order to remain in the country legally as an international student. If you don’t have a valid state ID, you might be denied boarding a plane, getting a job, or using other state-run services. Additionally, you might be asked to leave the country and risk being banned from re-entering the U.S. in the future. If you want to stay in the country and avoid such complications, make sure to apply for a state ID as soon as you arrive in the US as an international student.

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How to Check If You’re Eligible for a State ID

Before you start preparing the documents needed to apply for a state ID, it’s important to check if you’re eligible for this identification document. Keep in mind that state requirements for obtaining a state ID may change from time to time, so it’s essential to keep an eye on the latest updates. You can check if you’re eligible for a state ID by visiting your state’s official website and reviewing the requirements listed there. You may also call the state’s DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) or other state agencies to check if you’re eligible for a state ID. One thing to keep in mind is that state agencies often experience high volumes of calls during certain times of the year, such as during the summer months, when many students travel home for the holidays. Thus, you may want to plan when you’ll call the state DMV and other agencies in advance.


What Documents Are Required to Get a State ID?

Every state has its own list of required documents, so make sure to check this list and ensure you have everything before you visit the state DMV. The most common documents students use to apply for a state ID are listed below: A valid passport (Students must provide a copy of the identification page of their passport.) An I-20 (Students who are not currently enrolled in a university must provide a letter of intent to enroll.) A certified copy of your SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) Form I-20 or SEVIS Form I-20 SEVIS Transfer Students whose SEVIS record terminates during their stay in the US must provide a certified copy of the I-20 Termination Form. A valid F-1 or J-1 visa (Students with a visa must provide a certified copy of their visa.) A certified copy of your Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record (Students who have been in the US for less than two years must provide this document.) A certificate of health or vaccination record Proof of address in your state A $50 payment (Some states require you to pay a state ID fee in addition to the payment of the document fee.)


How to Find Out Which DMV Location Handles ID Applications

You can find out which DMV location handles ID applications and schedules appointments via the state’s official website. You may also call the state’s DMV to find out which location handles ID applications. When you find out which DMV location handles ID applications, make a note of the address and make an appointment as soon as possible. Keep in mind that DMV locations are often very busy and may have long waiting times. Therefore, it’s important to make an appointment as soon as possible and show up on time. You’ll save yourself a lot of headaches and frustration, and the DMV employees will appreciate your punctuality.


How to Apply for a US State ID as an International Student

Applying for a state ID as an international student is not a walk in the park. It takes time, effort, and patience, as you have to make multiple trips to the DMV and wait in long lines. However, it is worth the trouble and effort. Once you have a state ID in your hands, you’ll be able to travel freely around the country, board a plane to visit your family, and use other state-run services without worry. To apply for a state ID as an international student, follow the steps below. Choose a DMV location that will issue your state ID (You may want to call the DMV location and ask.) Schedule an appointment at the DMV using their Appointment Scheduler (You can also visit the DMV in person, but the Appointment Scheduler is often more efficient.) Bring all the required documents to the DMV (Check the list of required documents above.) Complete the application for a state ID (DMV employees should help you if you don’t know how to complete the application.) Wait for your state ID to arrive in the mail.


What to Do If You’re Turned Down During the Application Process

If you’re turned down during the application process, you may want to contact your college’s international student adviser. This person should be able to guide you and help you figure out what went wrong during the application process. Alternatively, you can visit the DMV location where you applied for a state ID in person and ask for assistance. DMV employees are very helpful and would be more than happy to assist you. Another option is to call the state DMV and explain your situation. State DMVs have the authority to grant exceptions to certain rules, so it never hurts to ask. Finally, you can apply for an alternative state ID. An alternative state ID is issued to students who are not able to apply for a regular state ID. Students who can apply for an alternative state ID include those who cannot provide certain documents or have a disability that prevents them from completing the application process.



Getting a state ID is essential for international students living in the U.S. This photo identification document confirms your address and identity, allowing you to travel freely in your state, board a plane, and use other state-run services without hassle. To apply for a state ID, you must be a U.S. resident and have a valid passport. Additionally, you must provide proof of address, and pay the state ID fee. Getting a state ID can be a tricky process, and there are no guarantees you’ll be approved. However, there are ways to increase your chances of success.

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