SEVIS Update – DMV and SSN

Following these six simple tips makes the process go much smoother and saves a lot of time in the end:

  1. Wait 10 days after you arrive in the United States. You may want to apply for a driver’s license or SSN right away, but be patient. The 10-day wait allows time for all the government databases to update with your arrival information.
  2. Know what you are applying for and if you are eligible. While you are waiting, talk with OIS to learn more about Arkansas’ driving rules and regulations. If you want an SSN, please come to OIS and confirm that you are eligible before you apply.
  3. Make sure your record in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) is up-to-date and in Active status. OIS manages an F or J nonimmigrant’s SEVIS record. OIS will place your record in Active status after you completed the check-in process. Talk with OIS before you apply for a license or SSN to make sure your record is Active in SEVIS. If your record is not Active when you apply, your application will be rejected.
  4. Check your forms. Check all your forms to make sure your information is correct. This is data integrity. Data integrity is very important because if you have different information on different forms, it will cause delays. Specifically, check your Form I-94, “Arrival/Departure Record,” for handwritten information. If the information on your Form I-94 is different than on your passport or Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status,” or Form DS-2019, “Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status,” please see the DMV Fact Sheet for more information.
  5. Wait two days after OIS activates your record in SEVIS. After your DSO or RO/ARO activates your record in SEVIS, you should wait at least two federal business days before you apply for a driver’s license or SSN. This gives all the databases time to update with your new information.
  6. Bring all your paperwork. When you go to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) – the common name for a state government office that issues driver’s licenses – or to the Social Security office, remember to bring all your paperwork. For most states, the paperwork includes these documents:
    • Form I-20 or Form DS-2019
    • Form I-94, “Arrival/Departure Record”
    • Passport (with visa, if applicable)
    • Proof of legal presence or residence

For an SSN, you must also bring a letter of employment and an endorsed Form I-20 (for F students). Exchange visitors should consult with OIS first to make sure the Social Security Administration requires a letter of employment for the J category.

These six tips should help you get your driver’s license or SSN without having any major problems. If you are interested in specific details about F-2 or J-2 dependents, please see page 8 of the DMV Fact Sheet. Always talk with OIS before you try to apply.

Learn More

Driving in the United States

Obtaining a Social Security Number (SSN)

DMV Fact Sheet

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