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In many states, an H-1B employee’s drivers’ license is linked to the validity of their current H-1B expiration date. Often enough an H-1B employee will have an extension filed on his/her behalf without premium processing and realize after a few months while his/her petition is pending that their driver’s license is going to expire. Given this, what should an employee do?

USCIS authorizes continued employment with the same employer for up to 240 days beyond the nonimmigrant status expiration date listed on the I-94 when an application to extend status remains pending. During this time an employee should not travel internationally. Some DMV offices will agree to issue a temporary driver’s license based upon the receipt; however, in California, the DMV will not issue or renew a license while a petition is pending and there is no grace period once a license expires. In this case, the H-1B employee may want to discuss with his/her employer regarding an upgrade to premium processing or finding alternative modes of transportation if filing premium processing is not an option.

Once the H-1B petition has been approved, the H-1B employee should go through process of renewing their license. Further instructions can be found on the DMV website. H-1B employees should bring the following documents as proof of their authorized presence in the United States:

  • Original I-797 Approval Notice
  • Copy of H-1B extension petition

While waiting for a new driver’s license, the DMV will then issue a temporary license that is valid for approximately 60 days.