I am student on F1 visa since 2012. I got my California drivers license 2013, valid for 5 years. After 5 years I applied for the Real ID card. Although my visa was valid for another 5 years (until 2022), they put the end date of the I-20 as expiration date (May 2019). For that drivers license I went to DMV and it did not have any indication of "limited term" etc.

Now I graduated in June and meanwhile I am on OPT. Although I applied to renew my drivers license already early May (!) it took until now to receive my new Real ID drivers license. It is dated exactly until the end of my OPT so I am pretty sure they cross-checked with USCIS which is why it took so long.

My new license is identical to the old one (except for the dates) but it contains the line "LIMITED-TERM".

What does that mean?

And why would I have it on the renewed version but not on my old one?

1 Answer 1


A little sleuthing at the wayback machine shows that California was not actually certified compliant with Real ID until May 25th of this year. Before that, they were for a brief while "under review," before which they were operating under an extension. Their failure to print "limited term" on limited term licenses, as required by 6 CFR 37.21(e) may have been one of the things that they had to correct before being found compliant.

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