I am a foreigner and my student visa expired last month. I do have an American driver's license valid until the end of next year. Can I still fly inside the US without being afraid they will check my papers and try to get me out of the country? I haven't used any of my European IDs or passport in 2 years since I got the US ID, so I haven't been showing them off. I've been feeling pretty secure with my license. What do you think?

  • 15
    Do you mean that your visa expired, or that your immigration status lapsed? Commented Jan 26, 2015 at 12:48
  • 1
    Isn't the validity of your driver's licence linked to the validity of your status?
    – npl
    Commented Aug 11, 2018 at 14:30
  • @npl different states handle this differently, but before the Real ID law came into effect there was little incentive to link status and driver's license validity. Also, the question asks about an expired visa; it's entirely possible that the student's status is still valid (or was at the time of asking).
    – phoog
    Commented Feb 16, 2022 at 18:20

2 Answers 2


To answer your question literally, you can certainly fly within the US with an expired visa. Your driver's license or your passport are both acceptable IDs according to TSA rules and if you show your license I don't think anybody will ask to see any other document. It might even be possible to fly without any of the IDs on the list, see I'm a foreigner, can I fly inside USA with my USA visa if my passport expires? and Can I fly domestically in the US using my university ID?

Now, if you're also out of status and staying illegally in the US, I don't know if you run a higher risk of being found out by taking a domestic flight. But an expired visa in itself is no big deal and it is not illegal to stay within the US without a valid visa (unlike European visas, US visas are only for entry and not about your right to stay in the country).

  • 11
    Note that being out of status does not necessarily mean you are staying illegally. Someone with a pending adjustment of status, change of status, extension of status, or asylum application can stay legally even if they are out of status.
    – user102008
    Commented Mar 18, 2015 at 1:29

You should note that at some airports and roads/trains near border areas, there are occasional random stops of passengers. If your english is flawless, you may be able to get away with just showing your driver's license, but if there is suspicion of your immigration status, you may be asked to prove your status.

More information can be found by searching for "DHS interior checkpoints" or "Border patrol interior checkpoints"

  • If they ask your citizenship, which they generally do, and you say that you're a US citizen when you're not, then you will have committed a felony. Someone who does this is playing with fire, even with flawless English and a US driver's license.
    – phoog
    Commented Feb 16, 2022 at 18:17

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