Carnegie Mellon University

Pennsylvania Driver's License and State ID Information for Non-U.S. Citizens

Many non-immigrants and their dependents obtain a Pennsylvania (PA) driver’s license or state identification (ID) card through the PA Department of Transportation (PennDOT). In addition to providing visitors the opportunity to drive, a state-issued photo ID can be a good alternative to the passport. Each state has different requirements for the issuance of driver’s licenses and state ID cards. 

Find detailed information below for non-immigrants in F, J, and H status who wish to obtain a PA driver’s license or state ID card. Typically, in order to be eligible for a PA driver’s license or state ID, a non-immigrant must have at least one year remaining on their immigration document (I-20, DS-2019, or H-1B/H-4 Approval Notice). Generally, visitors who will be in the U.S. for less than one year are expected to use their home country driver’s license plus the international driver’s permit (in English). International driver’s permits must be obtained outside of the U.S.

REAL ID” is a compliant driver’s license or photo ID card that allows you to board U.S. domestic/commercial flights.

You must take four exams. Those with a valid license from another U.S. state may be exempt from some of these exams. 

  1. Medical exam (available at University Health Services if you are a CMU Student)
  2. Written knowledge exam
  3. Vision exam
  4. Road exam
  1. Complete the Driver's License Application Form (DL-180) (pdf), with the medical exam portion completed by a medical professional or Application for Initial Photo ID Card (DL-54A) (pdf)
  2. Review the chart below to determine what additional documents and forms you will need to bring with you to a Driver's License Center.
  3. Review the PA Driver's License Manual - if applying for a Driver's License. Manuals can be found on the PennDOT website.
  4. Visit a Driver's License Center to submit the required documents and forms. 

Documents and Forms to bring to a Driver's License Center

Required Documentation & Forms

F-1 Student
F-2 Dependent

J-1 Student
J-2 Dependent

J-1 Scholar
J-2 Dependent

H-4 Dependent

Passport X X X X
I-94 Record print out or white paper I-94 card X X X X
Form I-20 X
Employment Authorization Document (EAD), if participating in OPT* X
Form DS-2019 X X
H-1B aproval notice X
Two (2) documents verifying your PA address (lease agreement, utility bill, etc). Note: cell phone bills are not acceptable. For undergraduates living on campus see below.** X X X X
Social Security Number (SSN) or SSN Denial Letter X X X X

**For undergraduates living on campus, you may request a letter verifying on campus residency by emailing These documents are usually ready within 72 hours and residents will be notified when they are available for pick-up in the Housing Services office. You will need a second form of proof of residency from the list above.

Information from the chart comes from PennDOT's Identification, Residency, and Legal Presence Requiremetns for Non-Citizens (pdf). This document also includes information for people in immigration statuses besides those listed in the chart who need a state ID or driver's license.

You will need to visit a local Driver's License Center to renew your Driver's License or ID Card. Complete and bring a renewal application (DL-143). Review the required documents in the "Driver's License Application Process" section above.