Renewing Your F-1 Visa

If your visa stamp has expired and you need to travel outside of the United States, you may need to renew your visa stamp in order to return.

Do I Need to Renew My Visa Stamp?

It is important to remember there is a distinction made between your F-1 visa stamp and your F-1 visa status. F-1 students are admitted to the United States for the duration of their status, not for a specific amount of time. This is why an F-1 student's I-94 "admit until" date should read "D/S."

If an F-1 student is maintaining their status in the United States they do not need to renew their visa stamp to stay in the U.S. This means you may remain even after your visa stamp expiration date if you are maintaining your F-1 status. Find out more about maintaining your F-1 status on our website. If your visa stamp has expired and you travel outside of the U.S. you will need to renew your visa to re-enter the U.S. in F-1 status.

Steps to Renew Your Visa Stamp

  • Step One: Schedule a Visa Appointment at the U.S. Embassy in Your Home Country

    You may only renew your F-1 visa at a U.S. embassy or consular office outside of the United States. Contact the U.S. embassy/consulate, generally in your home country, to set up an appointment. The wait time for an appointment and for visa issuance varies. To see how long this process takes in your country, read the U.S. Department of State's visa wait time information.

    It’s best to apply in your home country. If you are not sure which embassy/consulate you should contact, see this list of U.S. embassies.

  • Step Two: Get Your Documentation Ready

    When you arrive for your visa appointment, you will be required to show a number of documents, including:

    • I-20
    • Valid passport
    • A SEVIS payment receipt printed from your online payment confirmation
    • Visa application forms
    • Current financial documentation that lists the sources and amounts of financial support you have secured for the current or upcoming academic year. It must match the information listed on your I-20
    • A Letter of Good Standing, which may be requested through Atlas
    • A copy of your unofficial transcript, printed out from (search for "Unofficial Transcript")
    • A copy of the EAD card and proof of employment (Students on OPT only)
  • Step Three: Prepare for Your Interview

    Since you are applying for a nonimmigrant visa, you will need to prove to the consular officer that you do not intend to immigrate to the United States. In other words, you need to show him or her that you have definite plans to return home after college.

    For more information and tips, please see NAFSA's Ten Points to Remember.

Renewing Your Visa Stamp on OPT

Generally, it can be more difficult to renew your F-1 visa stamp while on OPT. OIA would not recommend attempting to renew your F-1 visa stamp while on OPT if you are not currently employed. Please feel free to contact an advisor at the Office of International Affairs if you have questions.

Applying for a Visa in a Third Country

Applying for visa in a country which is not your home country or the U.S., called a “third” country, can be more difficult than applying at home. You should have a valid reason for applying in the country where the consulate is located; you are likely to be denied if your only reason for applying in that country is to avoid your home country consulate. Examples of valid reasons could include to attend a conference, to visit family or friends, etc.

Additionally, you may need to prove that you have continuously maintained lawful non-immigrant status during your time in the U.S. or you may be sent to your home country to apply for the visa. Refusal in a third country is more likely than at home, so you should plan well in advance of your date of travel.

Applying for a Visa in Canada or Mexico

The U.S. Department of State provides specific guidance on applying for a visa in Canada or Mexico. If you intend to apply for a new U.S. visa in either country and are not a citizen or resident of either country, it is important for you to  contact an advisor at the Office of International Affairs if you have further questions.