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Thursday, February 23, 2006

Foreign Student? Can't Drive in Texas!

Texas has recently passed a law that will make foreign students unable to obtain driver's licenses, since their passports are not issued by the Department of Homeland Security. This is a discriminatory measure enacted to relegate 2nd class status to non-American citizens. An inability to drive make the lives of foreign students a lot harder while they study in the states. Additionally, a state ID is often a must have for other purposes, like securing a credit card or state bank account. International grad students here in Oregon are quite upset by the new law. Here's the text of an e-mail describing the situation:


Dear International Students,

International Student and Scholar Services has learned of a change in the rules governing the issuance of Texas driver's licenses. The change occurred last Friday, February 10, 2006. According to the new rules, the Department of Public Safety (DPS) can no longer issue a Texas driver's license or a Texas identification card to anyone who does not have a "facially identifiable document" issued by Department of Homeland Security . This includes F-1 students, J-1 students and scholars, and H-1B employees. Under the new rule, the only two categories that are eligible for a driver's license are F-1 students on OPT with a valid EAD (Employment Authorization Document) and J-2 dependents with a valid EAD.


Our office, along with other schools and employers around Texas, is advocating for a workable change to this policy. We are hopeful that we will be successful in our efforts but for now we ask that you do not apply for a Texas driver's license or identification card because the DPS office will not accept an application for either card . This new rule applies only to those who do not yet have a valid Texas driver's license or identification card. If you already have a Texas driver's license or ID, you can continue using them. You can also continue using an International Driver's License, if you have one. As soon as we receive any additional information about the Texas driver's license or identification card rule, we will let you know by email.

Best wishes,


International Student and Scholar Services




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