The visa stamp in your passport is an entry document only. As an F-1 or J-1 student, you only need to obtain a visa renewal is if it has expired and you are seeking to re-enter the U.S. from abroad. If your visa expires while you are in the U.S. and you do not plan to travel outside the U.S., your legal status in the U.S. is not affected.
Your visa is no longer valid for re-entry when:
- The expiration date has passed
- You have used up all the entries allowed. Check your visa for the number of entries allowed. "M" indicates multiple entries; you may use your visa until it expires.
- Your visa stamp indicates a visa classification different than the status you are currently in. For example, if you entered the U.S. as a visitor on a B visa, and you have since obtained a change of status to F-1 or J-1.
Procedures for Visa Renewal
- Be sure that your visa is no longer valid. Most consulates and embassies will not renew visas that are still valid, even if the expiration date is near.
- F-1 or J-1 visa renewals can never be granted in the U.S. For an appointment and a list of documents to bring, contact the U.S. consulate or embassy where you plan to apply. For more information, consult the State Department's list of U.S. Consulate and Embassy Websites.
- We recommend renewing your visa in your home country. However, some third countries will accept appointments for visa renewal.
- At the very minimum, bring your I-20 or DS-2019, your passport, and evidence of your financial support as shown on your I-20 or DS-2019 (e.g., bank statement, a letter from your employer, or a letter of financial aid or scholarship.
- We recommend that you also bring a new I-20 with a notation that you are not required to pay the new SEVIS fee. To request a new I-20, contact us.
You are never guaranteed a new entry visa to return, especially if you apply at a U.S. embassy or consulate in a country other than your home country. If you have difficulty obtaining your visa, contact us. To prepare yourself for a successful visa appointment, review the Visa Tips page.
For more detailed information about applying for an F-1 or J-1 visa at a U.S. consulate, visit Binghamton University's Applying for a New F or J Visa at a U.S. Consulate Abroad page.
Special Cases: Canada or Mexico
Please note that if you travel to Canada, Mexico or the adjacent islands, you may not need to seek a visa renewal even if your visa has expired. If a person in F-1, F-2, J-1 or J-2 status enters the United States from Canada, Mexico or most adjacent islands after an absence not exceeding 30 days, the entry visa stamp in his or her passport is considered to be extended automatically to the date of re-entry. This procedure is known as "automatic visa revalidation."
Automatic visa revalidation does not apply if your entry visa stamp has been marked "Cancelled" or if you are a student from Cuba, Iraq, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Sudan or Syria. Students intending to use automatic visa revalidation should keep their I-94 when entering Canada, Mexico or adjacent islands in order to maintain proof of their legal status in the U.S. OIP can write a letter of support for you if you will be returning to the U.S. under the automatic visa revalidation regulation.
Some students seek a visa renewal in a third country such as Canada or Mexico, but this tactic involves some risk. Federal regulations stipulate that if you are denied a visa renewal in these countries, you may not be allowed to re-enter the U.S.