If you are currently studying in the U.S. in F-1 status and your visa is about to expire, please note that you’re allowed to stay in the U.S. with an expired visa because your I-94 card is marked D/S, which stands for Duration of Status. This means that you are eligible to remain in the U.S. as long as you are maintaining your F-1 status and you have either a valid I-20 or valid EAD card. Your visa is simply an entry permit to get into the U.S.
However, if you are planning a trip outside of the United States and your visa is expired or about to expire, you will need to renew your F-1 visa outside of the U.S. in order to re-enter and resume your studies. It is not possible to renew your visa from within the U.S.
Where to apply?
The U.S. Department of State recommends that you apply for a new visa in your home country. However, if this will not be possible, you may apply at a U.S. embassy or consulate office that issues visas to third country nationals. Keep in mind the following:
Automatic Visa Revalidation – Canada, Mexico or the Adjacent Islands
Students traveling to Canada, Mexico or one of the adjacent islands* who will be outside of the U.S. for 30 days or less may be eligible for Automatic Visa Revalidation. This allows you to reenter the U.S. with a valid I-20 even if your F-1 visa is expired.
NOTE: You cannot enter with automatic revalidation if you apply for a new visa while you are traveling and your application is either pending or has been denied OR if your I-20 record has been terminated.
*Find a list of adjacent islands and learn more at www.ice.gov/sevis/travel.
How to apply?
Step 1: Research F-1 visa renewal requirements and procedures online (https://travel.state.gov) for the U.S. embassy where you will apply. It’s important to call and confirm requirements. Also, students that are applying as third party nationals must call to confirm that they are eligible to receive an F-1 visa in that location.
Step 2: Visit the U.S. Department of State travel website (https://travel.state.gov) to submit a visa application online (DS-160). Follow directions carefully for printing required materials, paying the application fee and setting up your visa interview.
Step 3: Prepare the documents you need for the interview. Again, be sure to check with the embassy or consulate office for additional documents. Requirements can differ between countries. You will need: