Real ID During Covid Lockdown: October 2021 Deadline Extension Covers Non-Immigrant Visa Holders

With the Coronavirus pandemic affecting DMV operations across the country, the deadline to get a Real ID has been extended to October 2021. Ever since Coronavirus was declared a pandemic and a national Emergency in the US, most government offices had altered their hours of operation or suspended it completely in light of maintaining social distancing.

The extension will ensure that everyone will have the security enhanced and federally approved identification to board domestic flights. While domestic travel within some states in the US is still available, all international travel either has some restrictions of suspensions.

What Is The Real ID?

Come October 1, 2021 everyone including foreign nationals on a non-immigrant visa in the US will need a Real ID to board a domestic flight or enter a federal building. The Real ID Act of 2005, an Act of Congress requires that everyone has to get a Real ID or be prepared to provide another federally approved document of identification like passports (which are still required for international flights), passport cards and trusted traveler identification like Global Entry.

For More Details on the Real ID

This is Where You Go

Existing driver’s licenses will continue in circulation for purposes of:

  • regular identification,
  • approved privilege of driving a car,
  • accessing federal benefits,
  • entering national parks and
  • travel within the US including driving in and across state lines or riding a train.

Why is the Real ID Important for a Non-Immigrant Visa Holder?

A valid driver’s license is required to obtain liability insurance and be legally employed at a US firm. While the current form of driver’s license acts as an identifying document, certain states have the right to demand additional evidence to prove legal status. In such circumstances, workers on H1-B, H4 EAD, or L1 visas, will have to ensure they have a:

  • valid I-94,
  • valid work visa,
  • an employer letter showing work contract,
  • an approved I-797 or I-485, where applicable.

Else renewing a driver’s license or acquiring a Real ID could prove to be harder, thus restricting ease of domestic travel.

How Can Legal Immigrants Get a Real ID-compliant license?

While the Real ID is only for legal immigrants over the age of 18, an adult accompanying a minor needs to provide a Real ID in order to board a domestic flight. The following steps need to be followed to acquire a Real ID:

DMV Appointment:

Make an appointment with your local DMV. Walking-in is still allowed in certain DMVs subject to their individual quarantine regulations. Certain DMVs have opened up special hours to cater to anyone getting a Real ID before October 1st, 2021.

Please Note

The hours of operation may have been altered due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Please call your local DMV office to confirm appointment hours before visiting the office.

Required Documents for your Real ID appointment at the DMV:

  • Valid Passport,
  • Birth Certificate
  • EAD
  • SSN Card or ITIN
  • Two proofs of residency like utility bill, apartment lease or school documents for F1, student visa holders
  • Official name change document, if applicable

Need an ITIN for a Real ID before October 2021?

Here’s everything you need to know about getting an ITIN


Because it is not mandatory and each state may term it differently (duplicate license, renewal of license, new license) the costs range from $15 to $78 among different states. Verify before going in. Mode of payment may also vary with each state.

​Enhanced ID: Alternative to Real ID

The Enhanced ID is Real ID-compliant and can be used for traveling from Canada, Mexico and some Caribbean countries by sea or land. To be noted, enhanced IDs are only available to US citizens but anyone with lawful​​ presence in the United States is eligible to get a Real ID if he meets all requirements​. ​​

Path2USA has all the information regarding Real ID. Stay tuned to this page for any changes or updates to the Real ID Act.