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Q: Use of foreign driver's license in New York State ( Answered 4 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: Use of foreign driver's license in New York State
Category: Relationships and Society > Law
Asked by: mik1521-ga
List Price: $20.00
Posted: 23 Aug 2006 09:12 PDT
Expires: 22 Sep 2006 09:12 PDT
Question ID: 758743
Is a foreign citizen on a J-visa considered resident of New York State
for the purposes of a driver's license?

I am a foreign citizen on a J visa, working in an Academic Training
program after completing my university studies. I have lived in NYS
for 1 year now. Am I required to get a NYS driver's license or can I
use my foreign license? From my research, I got conflicting answers:

- anyone maintaining a place of abode in NYS for over 90 days is
generally considered resident: that would require a NYS license
- out-of-state students are typically not considered resident: I am
not a student anymore but I am still on my exchange student visa

I would argue that since my visa has a set expiry date, and since I
maintain my permanent residence in my home country with the intention
to return, I cannot be a permanent resident of NYS -- hence I can use
my foreign license while I'm here. 

Is this correct? Please provide details specific to my visa status
over and above the generic answers I found.
Subject: Re: Use of foreign driver's license in New York State
Answered By: tutuzdad-ga on 23 Aug 2006 10:39 PDT
Rated:4 out of 5 stars
Dear mik1521-ga;

Thank you for allowing me to answer your interesting question. As you
will note from our disclaimer we cannot offer legal advice in this
forum. What we can do however is point out published information
concerning the subject of your question. As with all questions of a
legal nature you should contact an attorney for best results. With
that out of the way let me show you what is published:

According to Section 250 (5) of the New York State Vehicle and Traffic
Law, a ?resident? is defined this way:

??the term "resident" shall mean domiciliary, that is, one who lives
in this state with the intention of making it a fixed and permanent
abode. It shall be presumptive evidence that a person who maintains a
place of abode in this state for a period of at least ninety days is a
resident of this state.?


It does "sound" conflicting but the bad news is that for residency
purposes the New York DMV does not recognize you, in your current J-1
status, as a ?resident? since the law, as written, seems to apply only
to persons who intend to establish a permanent residency in New York
for purposes OTHER THAN merely educational:

?According to this law, students from other states or from other
nations who attend school in NYS are normally not considered residents
of NYS.?


The good news is that your foreign license is valid in New York State. 

?A valid driver license from another country is also valid in NYS. You
do not need to apply for a NYS driver license unless you become a
resident of NYS?If you have a driver license from any nation except
Canada, you must pass a written test, complete a 5-hour pre-licensing
course and pass a road test to qualify for a NYS driver license."

For information about this 5-hour pre-licensing course and road test
see ?New Drivers - How to Apply?
When you receive your NYS driver license, you must surrender your
foreign driver license to the DMV road test examiner. The local DMV
office keeps your foreign driver license, and then destroys the
license after 60 days. If you plan to return to your home country and
use your foreign driver license, ask the road test examiner how to
make sure that your foreign driver license is not destroyed. If you
need to get your foreign driver license, go to the local DMV office
where you applied for your NYS driver license.

In short, YES, your foreign license is valid in New York; and NO, you
are not considered a resident of New York for licensing purposes if
you are there on a J-1 Visa.

I hope you find that my answer exceeds your expectations. If you have
any questions about my research please post a clarification request
prior to rating the answer. Otherwise I welcome your rating and your
final comments and I look forward to working with you again in the
near future. Thank you for bringing your question to us.

Best regards;
Tutuzdad-ga ? Google Answers Researcher


Defined above



Google ://


New York

Driver license

J-1 Visa




Vehicle code

Request for Answer Clarification by mik1521-ga on 23 Aug 2006 11:16 PDT
Dear tutuzdad-ga:

Thank you for your answer. To clarify: I am *not* a student anymore, I
work in New York, so I am not sure this applies to me:

?According to this law, students from other states or from other
nations who attend school in NYS are normally not considered residents
of NYS.? 

From an immigration point of view, I am clearly not a permanent
resident. In fact, I could not even apply for a DL because my visa
expires within 6 months. Would an NYPD officer/court consider these as
proof of my nonresidence and hence let me drive with my foreign

Clarification of Answer by tutuzdad-ga on 23 Aug 2006 11:51 PDT
WOULD a police officer consider this if you were stopped? The best
answer is "perhaps". This calls for speculation since each officer
acts at his own discretion.

COULD a police officer theoretically write you a ticket? Yes,
certainly. That doesn't necessarily make it a "good" ticket though.
The DMV says that if you are stopped and given a ticket that, "A judge
considers the law and the evidence of your intent and decides if you
are a resident of NYS. For example, if you pay taxes or your children
attend school in another state, a judge considers these facts to
decide if your intent is to make NYS a "fixed and permanent"
residence. "

If you examine the links I posted for you you'll see that the DMV
recommends that someone in your position contact the authorities in
your home country to get an International Driving Permit.
This permit verifies that you hold a valid driver license in your home
country and not helps translate your license to a police officer
should you ever be  stopped or become involved in an accident. With
your foreign license and an International Driving Permit to translate
it there should be no question as to the validity of your license and
your J-1 Visa status should not even become an issue.

I hope this clarifies. I look forward to your rating and final comments.

mik1521-ga rated this answer:4 out of 5 stars
Thank you, it does clarify it, probably as much as you can without
consulting an attorney. I already had most of the information listed
in your answer (hence only 4 stars), but you organized and clarified
all this very nicely!

There are no comments at this time.

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