Can I stay in the United States if my student visa has expired?
Yes - as long as you are a student in good standing and have not violated your status, you may legally remain in the U.S. with an expired F-1 visa.
Can I renew my visa in the United States?
No - for more information about visa applications visit the Department of State website.
If you want to travel to a country other than your own to renew your visa, contact the U.S. embassy or consulate in that country. If you exit the U.S. and apply for a visa, you cannot return to the U.S. until the visa is issued. This could require a lengthy stay due to the security clearance process. If the visa is denied, you will not be able to return to the U.S. as a student.
What should I take with me to the visa appointment?
- Take the application for the visa, and proof of payment of the required visa fee(s).
- Your Form I-20/DS-2019, signed for travel. The travel signature should be less than one year old as of the time of your return to the U.S. If you are on OPT, your travel signature should be less than six months old as of the time of your return to the U.S.
- Take a letter from your academic advisor, stating that you are making satisfactory academic progress, and that you are expected to return to the U.S. to continue with your program of study.
- Print a copy of your unofficial university transcripts from Hokie SPA in case the Consular officer wants to see that you have been properly enrolled.
- If you are renting an apartment, and your name is on the lease agreement, take a copy of the lease agreement. This shows that you have a place to live, and a legal obligation to fulfill the lease requirements.
- Be sure to take your funding documentation as proof of your ability to pay for your educational expenses. This can be in the form of assistantship agreement, bank statements, sponsor support letter, etc.
- If you are on OPT and wish to travel outside of the US, you need proof of employment, your EAD, and other documents as requested by the consulate.
Automatic Visa Revalidation
In general, a nonimmigrant visa holder must present a valid, unexpired visa each time he/she enters the U.S. However, an exception to this rule exists for J or F nonimmigrants who travel for less than 30 days to Canada, Mexico, or "adjacent islands other than Cuba." The visas of such individuals are considered to be extended to the date of re-entry, eliminating the need to obtain a new visa before reentering the U.S.
This benefit is only available to J or F nonimmigrants who:
- have a Form I-94 valid for duration of status (D/S);
- have a valid Form I-20/DS-2019 signed for travel;
- are applying to re-enter the U.S. after an absence not exceeding 30 days in Canada, Mexico, or adjacent islands in the Caribbean other than Cuba;
- have maintained and intend to resume nonimmigrant status;
- have a valid passport;
- have not applied for a new visa during this particular trip; and
- are not a citizen or national of a country that has been designated as a "state sponsor of terrorism," which includes, as of January 1, 2010, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan and Syria.
Even though a national of a country other than those listed above may be eligible for re-entry under the automatic extension of visa validity provision, aliens involved in work or study listed on the Technology Alert List may encounter delays upon attempting reentry. Although they technically do not need a new visa, they may be subject to security or other clearances before being permitted to reenter. Remember that traveling on an expired visa carries some degree of risk, and travelers may be denied re-entry to the U.S. and asked to return to their home countries.
It is important to note that those who arrive under the Visa Waiver Program CANNOT work or study. The visa waiver program allows the citizens of specific countries to enter the U.S. to visit without first obtaining a visa.
Extension of stay or change to any other visa status is not permissible under any circumstances.