Why Internationals students on F1 Visa should apply for State ID? H1B visa ID?

by Kumar · 3 comments

California State ID CardIn America, a valid official photo Identification card or document is very important. In fact, it is necessary at most places. First thing anyone asks for verification is your photo ID.  It can be Driver’s license, State ID or Passport from home country. I try to address the importance of State ID in this article.

Why is Official Photo ID issued by State or Government so important  ?

Imagine, you  want to go with your friends to a dance club or bar. First check point, they ask your ID to verify if you are over 18 years. You will not be allowed in if you do not have proper ID with your age on it.  The primary purpose of a State issued ID is to validate your age. It also verifies few things like your Signature, Address and tie all of these to your image….Some clubs do not consider home country license or ID. They ask for passport or any photo ID like driving license or state ID issued by US state Government.  If you enter liquor store with your friends, they ask your ID too when your friend buys alcohol, just for verification. Few places where you need IDs :

  • Buy any kind of  over 18 products of tobacco
  • Buy any liquor, Enter Bars, Clubs for over 21 years age verification
  • Casinos for gambling
  • Banks, Air ports, any offices
  • Renting Jet Skis or any kind of equipment in Vacation
  • Credit card payment in any stores, Gas stations, etc

Check the complete list of Places in USA that ask Photo ID and its importance

I can keep on writing the list… the point is, it is very important. If you do not have proper ID, you will not be able to do certain things. You do not want to keep carrying your passport with you all the time…

Why should you NOT carry passport as Photo ID in USA ?

Carrying Passport as form identification is a very bad idea. Imagine you go to a bar or theme park and have passport in your pocket. You are having a good time in bar and you forget what you are carrying in pocket. Because there were many people in club, you just lost… or you were doing an extreme ride in theme park and it dropped down somewhere… or maybe you get in water and your passport get a nice shower J …anything can happen. Worst thing that can happen is you lose your passport. It is much more work for you to get new passport from US. You will have to get visa stamping if you have to leave country. If you have your I-94 in the passport too and lose it too, then you are in trouble. You will have to go through lot of complex process and create unnecessary issues. Is it really worth it ? NO !!! I have seen many of the H1B visa holders or F1 students trying to use passport for ID. That’s a very bad idea. DO NOT Carry passport unless you are going out of country. So, what should you carry ?

Difficulties with getting Driving license in USA

I know how hard it is to get driving license in US if you are a student on F1 visa or if you are on H1B visa and very new in the country. It can be very hard if you do not have a car or if you do not know how to drive to get driving license. You may have to ask seniors or friends to help you and sometimes you may have to take driving lessons for getting comfortable with driving. All in all, it can be very difficult to get driving license at times if you do not have right people to help you or if you do not have right resources. You may check this article : How to do driving practice and get driving license in America? Is Indian driving license valid in USA ?

How easy is it to get State ID ? How can it help you ?

The official identification document that is accepted other than driver’s license is state ID.  It looks in fact very similar to driving license ID.  State ID is accepted at every single place where your license or passport is accepted. It is your official ID. If you lose one, you an always get one by paying fees. It is very simple for replacement. It is not like our Passport and other complexities as I explained above. Getting state ID is very simple and easy. You just need to carry some of your official documents and visit state DMV office. You will get one easily. You should look at your respective state government DMV websites for State ID information and what you need. You can check few of the below links on what states ask for State ID.

If  you are a student on F1 Visa, ask your seniors to take you to DMV office. Even some schools have International office arrange trips to DMV office for international students.  If you are on H1B, ask your friends to take you to DMV office. DO NOT hesitate to ask. You may feel uncomfortable at time, but just ask.  Also, some of the places they do accept International Driving licenses as a valid ID, but you can never rely on it. Some do not. A safe bet is to get a state ID and carry it all the time with you.

Image Credit :http://www.flickr.com/photos/newbirth/2537047668/


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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

MS January 3, 2014 at 9:50 pm

Hello,

Just wondering, what are the places where the state id can be helpful for minors (kids)? Is it worth getting state id for kids by spending 20+ bucks?

Only thing, i could figure out after reading the whole blog is, airport could be the place while doing domestic travel we might need that. Other than that any other scenario?

Pls guide.

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Eric Ansah January 19, 2012 at 2:55 pm

What documents does an FI Visa student need to provide at the DMW in order to aquire a state ID? Thank you.

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D D May 21, 2010 at 12:40 pm

Even seemingly harmless things like buying a bottle of over-the-counter cough syrup (Nyquil, Benadryl etc.) at a pharmacy requires age-proof ID in most places. Carrying your passport along is a hassle.
Again, since the passport does not fit in your wallet (purse), you won’t carry it on you 24X7. But in case of emergencies or unplanned events (you join your lab-mates for a drink or go with your friends to a bar after class/school and might not have your passport on you), the State ID helps a lot.

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